Will US Justice Department Sue Over State MJ Legalization?
I know it seems like a silly question.
First up is a video of 60 Minutes looking into the booming medical marijuana industry in Colorado that aired on Sunday night. It’s mainly for background, but most of it’s seriously cool.
“Deputy Attorney General James Cole has told US Attorneys not to waste resources prosecuting patients or caregivers that are in clear compliance with state medical marijuana laws.” [snip]
“Each case is gonna rise and fall on its own unique facts. Any of that is still in violation of the Controlled Substance Act of the federal law. We’re not interested in bothering people who are sick and are using it at the recommendation of a doctor. We are concerned who are using it as a pretext to become large-scale drug dealers.”
Soon after the segment previewed, a CBS affiliate had a piece online including this video with an outtake of James Cole speaking that didn’t make it into the segment that was aired in which he was asked directly what the DoJ would do if Colorado voters approve Amendment 64 in November:
“I think our posture is the same as it’s always been. That we’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Cole said.
I just found this News Nation video with Ryan Grimm of HuffPo as well:
The Ballot Title and Submission Clause say:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?”
Here is the full text. Oregon and Washington also have recreational reefer legalization on the ballot.
Most coverage announces that Cole’s statements ‘represent a big departure from Obama’s silence on the matter. Well, yes, given that he even had a television ad in which some stoners representing teevee’s Harold and Kumar, and expressing his Hope that they’re on board, cuz ‘we have to get this right”, tra la la…. His DoJ has cracked down hard on MMJ dispensaries in some states, but in CO, they have mainly pressed the federal ‘1000 feet from schools’ laws for drug activity that increases a regular bust to a greater crime; about ten years’ worth if I remember correctly (don’t count on it).
MSNBC quotes Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has helped fund legalization initiatives as saying, “Compared to what they did two years ago in California, to have their federal posture be essentially a wait-and-see approach is encouraging” and
“I think it is pretty clear from this video that the Obama administration won’t take any legalization measure lying down,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to Gil Kerlikowske, the Obama administration’s drug policy director, said in an email.”
So, my guess is that no matter which corporate candidate is elected, if any of the three states vote for legalization, things are going to get pretty dicey.
The New American website has extensive information on the issues that will likely be in play (my bold):
“In 2008, even the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government to stop its anti-medical marijuana campaign in California, correctly citing constitutional restrictions on federal power. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, or to the people.” The ACLU is still involved in the fight.
Because the federal government has been delegated no legitimate authority in terms of prohibition — that’s why a constitutional amendment was required to ban alcohol — experts say states are standing on solid ground. However, that does not mean that the Obama administration will not fight to stop voters from defying the federal government by legalizing marijuana, especially because it could pave the way for more nullification successes in the future.
Drug warriors including former DEA bosses and White House “drug czars” have expressed vehement opposition to the initiatives, urging President Obama — he has admitted consuming marijuana — to publicly speak out, partly because legalization would supposedly violate United Nations treaties. So far, however, the administration, despite a ruthless war on medical cannabis in recent years that drew bipartisan ire, has refused to comment on the upcoming legalization proposals.”
The author mentions the numerous law enforcement groups that have rallied behind the initiatives as well, and says that leading the charge on that front is a non-profit organization made up of police officers, judges, prosecutors, correctional workers, and other criminal justice professionals known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The National Black and Latino Police Groups Announce Endorsements for Amendment 64 have their own webpage supporting legalization in CO; just imagine how disproportionately black and Hispanic people are imprisoned for non-violent drug ‘crimes’.
All of the coverage assumes Obama will be re-elected; but Mitt Romney still sees MJ as a gateway drug, and opposes all use, so the battles will commence no matter who’s elected (unless a miracle upset happens, of course). ;o) Point of interest: Ron Paul campaigned on leaving the decision to the states.
I want to be able to grow it (jayzus, what a beautiful plant it is), and for everyone in our state to be able to grow both indica and sativa species as well as agricultural hemp. And I want the nation to legalize it, and end the incarceration of far too many brought to us by the corporate prison industrial complex. An end to the phony ‘drug war’ could only be a boon to the nation economically and would sincerely decrease the violence both on the borders and in inner cities, imo.
Full disclosure: a Doctor approved me for medical marijuana about a month ago for hurtin’ fer certain; it helps some days, and any help is…very welcome, and kinda fun. Even when I still hurt, I don’t care quite as much that I do, if you can catch my drift. The joint salves really do seem to help, too. I could probably think of more good reasons in favor of legalization, but…I’m kinda high. (j/k)