Tag: Cannabis in the United States

Cruz, Marijuana and States’ Rights

This remark is drawing some attention:

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday criticized President Barack Obama for not arresting people in Colorado who violated federal law by using marijuana.

“A whole lot of folks now are talking about legalizing pot. The brownies you had this morning, provided by the state of Colorado,” he jokingly said during his keynote speech at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Policy Orientation.

“And you can make arguments on that issue,” Cruz continued. “You can make reasonable arguments on that issue. The president earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes. Didn’t change the law.”

Voters in Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2013, but federal law still prohibits the use of the drug. The Department of Justice announced in August of 2013 that it would not target for arrest adults who used marijuana in compliance with state laws.

Cruz said the Obama administration should continue imprisoning people for using marijuana until federal law is changed.

“You can go to Congress, you can get a conversation, you could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, ‘We ought to change our drug policy in some way,’ and you could have a real conversation, you could have hearings, you could look at the problem, you could discuss commonsense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn’t happen. This president didn’t do that. He just said, ‘The laws say one thing’ — and mind you these are criminal laws, these are laws that say if you do ‘X, Y, and Z’ you will go to prison. The president announced, ‘No, you won’t.’”

There is a small point to be made here. Marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, even it is legal under some state laws. The President is choosing not to enforce federal law.

The problem here is that our Congress has had ample opportunity to update federal law. In the wake of the Raich decision, there have been numerous attempt to change federal law so that it will respect the will of the states. This has not even been seriously considered by our Congress. They have not even had a real debate about it. They are so obsessed with never looking like hippy pot-smoker enablers, that they have refused to do anything. This “conversation” that Mr. Cruz talks about has not happened because it has been stomped down.

So I would turn this around. The correct criticism is of Congress, who have had nine years to change federal law and have refused to do so. I understand that Obama’s actions come from an Administration that has been happy to ignore the law whenever it suits them. But what we’re talking about here is standard-issue prosecutorial discretion. We don’t prosecute people for kiddie porn if they take pictures of their kids in swimsuits. We don’t prosecute people for jaywalking if they’re running across the street to fight a fire. And we don’t prosecute people for smoking pot when that would involve arresting tens of thousands of people.

However, this does cut both ways. The President could (and knowing him, likely will) rescind this promise at his discretion. A future President could do so. Under the current legal regime, people could smoke pot in Colorado for ten years and then suddenly find themselves in federal prison. So it is incredibly important that Congress move to recognize the states’ rights of Colorado and Washington (a subject Republicans are all about when it comes to abortion or gay rights). It is important that we do start this conversation in Congress. If only Ted Cruz knew a member of Congress who could get that conversation started …

That “conversation” is not something that will happen overnight. Even if Congress were amenable to changing federal law, there are anti-drug treaties we are bound to that will need to be changed. That could mean years of work and negotiation. Given the realities of the situation, I think basic prudence demands that we (1) agree to suspend federal marijuana prosecutions in states that have legalized it; (2) begin the process of revising federal law and international treaties to create a consistent legal regime.

Obama’s done Part 1. When will he and Congress start Part 2?

We Care Not For Your State Law

When Washington and Colorado legalized pot earlier this year, we wondered how the Feds would react.

Wonder no more:

Federal agents raided several medical marijuana dispensaries Wednesday in Washington — a state which just decriminalized the drug last year.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Seattle office confirmed in a brief statement that “several search warrants were executed today involving marijuana storefronts” in the Puget Sound region around Seattle.

It gave no further details, and the number of raids remained unclear Wednesday evening.

One of the dispensaries was the Bayside Collective in Olympia, the state capital, where seven government vehicles converged Wednesday morning.

Agents with guns drawn seized business records and about $2,500 worth of marijuana intended for cancer patients, Casey Lee, who works at the clinic, told NBC station KING of Seattle.

This was a result of a “two-year investigation”, according to the Feds. Unless that two year investigation found illegal trafficking, I’m thinking they would have been better off spending two years smoking pot than investigating it.

A gun-draw raid on a business selling marijuana to people with cancer in compliance with state law. Your federal government, people! Your civil liberties law professor President! This is your drug czar who claims we need to move away from a war mentality!

Tightening the Pot Noose

Barack Obama smoked marijuana. So did George Bush and Bill Clinton and probably a lot of other Presidents and most of Congress. Just keep that in mind as these hypocrites continue to crack down on legal pot:

Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week stating they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The state’s four U.S. attorneys were scheduled Friday to announce a broader coordinated crackdown.

16 is what they can confirm. The last time, the US Attorneys sent letters to all the dispensaries. This might seem like empty bluster. But when you combine this with a recent DOJ memo advising agents that cracking down would now be a priority, the IRS telling dispensaries they can not deduct any business expenses, the EPA starting to snoop around — and you’ve got a pattern. A pattern of hypocrisy, anti-federalism and bullshit.

This all comes, of course, from Gonzales v. Raich, one of the worst SCOTUS decisions of my lifetime. Give credit to Lee, who called it at the time:

Basically this is a huge green light for Congress to basically do whatever the fuck it likes if it can somehow, in some way, sorta, kinda tie it in to interstate commerce. Our highest court just sold us out. And Scalia, fucking Scalia, the one true federalist on the court, actually sided with the majority in this idiocy. I’m just disgusted by the whole thing.

It’s taken six years, but they are finally following through.

The thing is, they don’t have to do this. That’s one of the things these limp-dicked fascists don’t seem to grasp: that just because the government can do something, it does not follow that it must. Bush — fucking George Hitler Bush — understood this and had the DEA back off. Obama — Mr. Hippy Liberal Power to the People Man — is bringing down the hammer. Just something else to go with his generally hideous record on civil liberties and criminal justice.

Here’s my favorite quote:

Duffy, the U.S. attorney for far Southern California, planned to issue warning letters to property owners and all of the 180 or so dispensaries that have proliferated in San Diego in the absence of compromise regulations, according to Goldsmith.

“The real power is with the federal government,” he said. “They have the asset forfeiture, and that means either the federal government will own a lot of property or these landlords will evict a lot of dispensaries.”

Asset forfeiture. That relic of 18th century law in which you charge property with a crime and just fucking take it; no conviction required.

While I have every respect for federalism, there’s a part of me that wishes the governors of 16 states would stand up to this, would basically announced that any federal agent who raids a legal dispensary will be arrested for violating state law. It won’t happen, of course, but someone is going to have to stand up to these fuckers. Maybe we should just wheel a bunch of sick people into Congress and have them moan, groan and cry in pain until Congress fucking gets it, passes the Paul-Frank bill and ends this madness.

Forget Wall Street. Occupy the Capitol.

Update: It’s even worse. The Feds are threatening landlords with big prison sentences, especially if he dispensary is within 1000 feet of a school or park. Jesus.