Skip to comments.Denver DEA Rep: Don't Legalize It
Posted on 08/28/2006 3:45:15 AM PDT by Wolfie
Denver DEA Rep: Don't Legalize It
Colorado -- The Drug Enforcement Agency is stepping into the political fray to oppose a statewide ballot issue that would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
In an e-mail to political campaign professionals, an agent named Michael Moore asks for help finding a campaign manager to defeat the measure, which voters will consider in November. If passed, it would allow people 21 and older to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana.
In the e-mail, which was sent from a U.S. Department of Justice account, Moore also writes that the group has $10,000 to launch the campaign. He asks those interested in helping to call him at his DEA office.
That has members of Safer Colorado, the group supporting the marijuana legalization measure, crying foul. The government has no business spending the public's money on politics, they said.
Steve Fox, the group's executive director, said members of the executive branch, including the DEA, should leave law-making to legislators.
"Taxpayer money should not be going toward the executive branch advocating one side or another," Fox said. "It's a wholly inappropriate use of taxpayer money."
Jeff Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the Denver office of the DEA, said voters have every right to change the laws. And the law allows his agency to get involved in that process to tell voters why they shouldn't decriminalize pot.
"My mantra has been, 'If Americans use the democratic process to make change, we're in favor of that,'" he said. "We're in favor of the democratic process. But as a caveat, we're in favor of it working based on all the facts."
Sweetin said the $10,000 the committee has to spend came from private donations, including some from agents' own accounts. He said the DEA isn't trying to "protect Coloradans from themselves" but that the agency is the expert when it comes to drugs.
"The American taxpayer does have a right to have the people they've paid to become experts in this business tell them what this is going to do," he said. "They should benefit from this expertise."
That argument threatens states' rights to make their own laws, says Safer's Fox.
"By this logic, federal funds could be used by the executive branch without limitation to campaign for or against state ballot initiatives," he said. "Our federalist system is based on the notion that states can establish their own laws without federal interference. The DEA ... is thumbing its nose at the citizens of Colorado and the U.S. Constitution."
State and federal law take different approaches to whether government employees should be allowed to mix work and politics.
Colorado law prohibits state employees from advocating for or against any political issue while on the job, and also bars those employees from using government resources including phone and e-mail accounts for any kind of political advocacy.
But federal law which governs what DEA agents can do is different.
The Hatch Act, passed in 1939 and amended in 1993, governs most political speech. Passed in the wake of patronage scandals in which the party in power would use government money and staff to campaign against the opposition, the law is mostly aimed at partisan political activity, said Ken Bickers, a University of Colorado political science professor.
While the act's prohibitions against on-the-job partisan politicking are strict, for the most part it allows federal employees to take part in non-partisan politics. And it's mostly silent on non-partisan ballot measures.
"I'm not sure that this doesn't slide through the cracks in the Hatch Act," Bickers said. "The Hatch Act isn't about political activity it's about partisan political activity. Since this is a ballot initiative, and there's no party affiliation attached to it, that part of the Hatch Act probably wouldn't be violated."
An official from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with investigating violations of the act, said in a statement last week that the DEA hasn't run afoul of Hatch.
Your tax dolars at work ping.
So, you have any more reasons why you should be using dope in the workplace?
Moreover, I am not advocating legalizing any kinds of drugs or decriminalizing them.
However, the following stats speak for themselves as to whether the "War on Drugs" has been effective.
While I don't do drugs, it is apparent that they continue to be plentiful and as I understand, the quantities continue to increase and the street price either is stable or even, has decreased.
Moreover, methinks the DEA Agent(s) doeth protest too much and may have job security in the back of their mind?
While there are many good conscientious Fed LEA types; many other, are more Gestapo-acting, over the top, self-serving hypocrites and when you factor in the wholly illogical and "legalized thievery" which allows confiscation of property, absent a person being convicted of a crime, I am very dubious as to the WOD's efficacy--not to mention the average cost of $33,000 per arrest--other than it being a "full-employment" act for many tens of thousands in Justice Dept/LEA/Judges/Court Appointed Lawyers/Prison Guards/Probation Officers/etc., etc., etc.
In addition, I don't think that $33,000 a year, includes the approximate cost of $30,000 a year it costs to incarcerate these low-level, non-dealing, drug offenders.
And while I don't have an easy answer, the WOD deserves more scrutiny and dialogue in order to find a more effective policy for this problem, which does not appear to be going away any time in the near future
DRUG WAR CLOCK:
It is Mon Aug 28 2006
Money Spent on the War On Drugs this Year
The U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second.
The budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars. Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy
State and local governments spent at least another 30 billion. Source: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: "Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets," January, 2001. Arrests for drug law violations in 2006 are expected to exceed the 1,678,192 arrests of 2003.
Someone is arrested every 20 seconds.Source: Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation
People Arrested for Cannabis Law Offenses this Year:485,527
In 2002, 45.3 percent of the 1,538,813 total arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana -- a total of 697,082.
Of those, 613,986 people were arrested for marijuana possession alone.
This is a slight decrease from 2000, when a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 were for possession alone.
Source: Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation
People Incarcerated for Drug Law Offenses this Year:7,149
Since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year.
About 25 per cent are sentenced for drug law violations.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics
And you think the DEA doth protest too much?
So when are the Libertarians, drug addicts, drug pushers, and all like minded people going to buy some land and start your own country? You're so much smarter, and presumably wealthier than the rest of us, and think of all the money you would save on law enforcement and incarceration.
It seems to me that decriminalizing possession of an ounce of pot would free up limited Federal assets to focus on the key supply nodes that are providing the bales and kilos those ounces come out of.
Of course doing that would drive down the potential number of arrests for the DEA to make, which could be a problem come annual budget time. Maybe they could revise their budget pitch to emphasize quantities seized and the IMPORTANCE of individuals arrested.
And you think the DEA doth protest too much
I was trying to make a point.
So WHAT'S YOURS?
Hire more LEA? Increase budget by $BILIONS and $BILIONS?
Build more prisons?
Make criminals out of millions more citizens?
Lock them all up and throw away the keys?
No, I don't have all (or even some) of the answers
This is an issue for the people of Colorado.
Why is the Bush administration,
pissing people off and losing votes?
Perhaps it would be better if the Talibornagains would go off and form your own country. We'll give you Idaho if you like.
Not all government employees are parasites - in a well-ordered civic ecology, predators and scavengers form a key part of the Great Circle of Government.
Thus, we have the DEA agent.
My issue with this is the same as the opponents of the DEA.
I personally don't even drink, let alone smoke dope. But legalization does seem to make sense.
Compare it to alcohol. When is the last time you heard of someone getting high and beating their wife? Stoners seem to mostly lay around playing Xbox games and eating day old pizza.
But, to the main point, I agree. It is outside the realm of the fed or any gov agency or it's employees to sponsor one side of a bill or the other, even though it happens all the time. There are advocacy groups on both sides of this issue, and if the DEA wishes to support the opposition, he can do it after he clocks out in his/her own personal life.
If the public wishes to leverage the "expert advice" of the DEA, I am sure they will ask. If the public wishes to blindly vote for things without researching it, that is also unfortunately within their rights (This is how liberals get elected).
Lets compare: How would people react if the Attorney general founded a no-prayer-allowed-in-school (call it whatever you like) organization on the clock, printed flyers, recruited supporters, all that guff even IF the entire thing was funded with "private" donations? Then, he/she started showing up in the newspapers like this speaking out and supporting the cause in public?
Exactly. These are public servants who are by design supposed to remain neutral in these issues. Failure to comply with this basic ethical standard undermines fairness and equality of all opinions, even if my opinions are the only ones that are always correct . hehehe
Moony, -- we rational people did just that, - way back in 1776.
You're so much smarter, and presumably wealthier than the rest of us,
Poor little moonman displays his pique.
and think of all the money you would save on law enforcement and incarceration.
You bet. Unreasonable taxation sparked our '76 revolution. -- It could bring on the next one.
BTW, whatever happened to the free state project? Another Libertarian failure?
Moony, -- we rational people did just that, - way back in 1776, with our blood & sweat .
The United States wasn't purchased. It was never Libertarian, and the Confederation didn't last very long.
BTW, whatever happened to the free state project? Another Libertarian failure?
You're obviously obsessed with libertarians, moony.. - Do you have an actual point, or is this just more pique?
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