Skip to comments.Here's How the Obama Admin. Is Considering Responding to Legal Pot in Colorado and Washington
Posted on 12/06/2012 9:26:57 PM PST by Red Steel
The Obama administration is strategizing how to fight legal pot in Colorado and Washington, reports Charlie Savage of The New York Times. While "no decision" is "imminent," Savage reports that senior level White House and Justice Department officials are considering "legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives."
A taskforce made up of Main Justice, the DEA, the State Department, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy is currently considering two courses of action, reports Savage:
One option is for federal prosecutors to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with, waiting for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because the drug is now legal in that state. The department could then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps the state one.
A more aggressive option is for the Justice Department to file lawsuits against the states to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax marijuana, as the initiatives contemplated. If a court agrees that such regulations are pre-empted by federal ones, it will open the door to a broader ruling about whether the regulatory provisions can be severed from those eliminating state prohibitions or whether the entire initiatives must be struck down.
Option one could possibly mean that Obama would break a campaign promise he's already split hairs over: That his administration will not go after people who smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons. Savage makes it seem as if there are people in Washington who are more than happy to take that route: Apparently some law enforcement officials are so "alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly," that they "are said to be pushing for a stern response."
On Nov 12, Jacob Sullum answered the question, Can the Feds stop Colorado and Washington from legalizing pot?
According to the Supreme Court, a "positive conflict" exists "when it is impossible to comply with both state and federal law." But neither Colorado's Amendment 64 nor Washington's Initiative 502 requires anyone to grow or sell marijuana. One can readily comply with both state and federal law simply by choosing not to go into the cannabis business. Both laws are written so that they merely explain the criteria people must satisfy to avoid prosecution for marijuana offenses under state law. "Notwithstanding any other provision of law," begins the section of Amendment 64 dealing with marijuana growers and sellers, "the following acts are not unlawful and shall not be an offense under Colorado law." I-502 likewise says "the production, possession, delivery, distribution, and sale of marijuana in accordance with the provisions of this act and the rules adopted to implement and enforce it, by a validly licensed marijuana producer, shall not be a criminal or civil offense under Washington state law."
In other words, both laws define what counts as a crime under state law, a power that states indisputably have. "You're not actually creating a positive conflict with the federal [law]," says Alison Holcomb, director of the Yes on I-502 campaign, "because the federal government remains free to enforce federal law within the state, and you're not requiring anybody to perform an act that would require a violation of federal law. You're simply setting out what the rules are for avoiding arrest and prosecution under state law."
Nor does either law compel state employees to violate the Controlled Substances Act by "possessing" marijuana for regulatory purposes. Under I-502, testing of marijuana will be handled by private laboratories. Amendment 64 likewise envisions "marijuana testing facilities" that will be "licensed to analyze and certify the safety and potency of marijuana."
What about collecting tax revenue from marijuana sales? Legally, those provisions could be the most vulnerable aspects of these laws (although it looks like Colorado's pot tax may never take effect). Jonathan Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University, tells Politico, "The argument has been made and Ive never heard anybody successfully rebut itthat the federal government can seize the proceeds of any illegal activity. By that logic, it could seize the tax revenueseven from the states." But in Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, Caulkins and his three co-authors observe that although "it has been argued that the federal government could confiscate such revenues as proceeds of illegal transactions...as far as we know the federal government has not touched a penny of the fees and tax revenues generated from medical marijuana."
And here's Ethan Nadelmann, head of the Drug Policy Alliance, hoping against hope that Obama will get on board.
Weird how once the potheads got the crap “legalized”, we don’t hear anymore bull**** about “medical” marijuana. That whole thing was a joke and the dorks in this country fell for it. Whatever happened to that “legalize it and tax the hell out of it!” bull****. LOL! What a farce.
Absent-minded er absentee ballots, free inside?
Obama will throw his own voters under the bus, just to get into a pissing contest between state and federal law. Why should anyone in DC give a Sh!t if someone in Colorado smokes a joint, nothing but a power trip.
Maybe for some but not for all, there are legitimate medical reasons people use pot (in a various ways).
Resurrecting the Choom Gang?
What are these loaded questions talking about exactly?
Obama has flip flopped at least as much as the infamous Mitt by now.
It also might be the straw that breaks Obamacare, because if different states have different laws, they would not want to pay for other state's citizens getting drug treatment or other medical services more than "dry" states. This would lead to fighting such that a federal health care program would be seen as unworkable when states had their own laws affecting health.
Well, if Washington state is really adamant about allowing this law to be law of the state, they need to tell their sheriffs to kick out all federal law enforcement agents.
Feds cannot operate in counties without the approval and support of the county sheriff. Generally not used, but that’s a critical reason why you should never get rid of your county sheriff level of law enforcement. They are the top LEO of the county and nobody else has the ability to kick the feds out.
The feds would love to get rid of sheriffs because of this fact.
some law enforcement officials are so “alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly,” that they “are said to be pushing for a stern response.”
Note to officials, that would be the majority of
canabis users anyway. Admittedly it’s not a good idea
to smoke in front of a LEO but state and federal laws
have NOT stopped people from growing or smoking pot.
Respect federalism? Oh no. The Tenth Amendment and the very foundation of our governmental system is nothing compared to the enraging possibility that some grown people might have made the choice to get high. Marijuana used to be smoked by hippies, and hippies are bad and must be punished. Therefore, f*** the Constitution; full speed ahead with the drug war!
Bunk. Medicinal marijuana was the camel’s nose stuck under the tent. It was a ruse, and a cynical one at that.
The real ruse was that the war on drugs was about fighting drugs. It was about the Federal Government gaining enormous power and raping civil liberties.
If it was about fighting drugs, the HSBC, Wachovia and other banks that knowingly launder the cartel money would have been dealt with very harshly, perhaps even seized under forfeiture laws. They aren’t.
If it was about fighting drugs, our troops in Afghanistan wouldn’t be strictly forbidden from damaging pot and opium poppy crops.
These hard facts tell you all you need to know about the war on drugs.
Last, if all you know about an issue is that our Federal government is in favor of it, it’s usually a good policy to be against their position.
Sure it’s a ruse, but the ruse is a direct response to federal overreach. The feds have seized the power to ban any substance that they deem has no medical use. The courts won’t directly reverse that overreach, so the natural consequence is to work around it and just propose medical uses, however spurious, for the banned substances.
There’s no difference between that, and gun manufacturers finding ways to satisfy technical requirements of gun regulations in some superficial way in order to avoid those bans. Both of them are legitimate responses from the citizens to improper usurpations which the more proper methods of redress have failed to correct.
Where do you come up with this stuff?
It will be fun to watch lib states fight the lib gov’t they elected.
I’d love to see the ‘the gov’t is here to help you’ fantasy go ‘poof’ over a pot smoking fight between states and fed gov.
Then you did not read what I wrote.
Then you did not read what I wrote.
Then you did not read what I wrote.