by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
Finally, President Obama has spoken about his aggressive stance toward medical marijuana. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, his statements are underwhelming, inaccurate and do nothing to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. In response to a question from Rolling Stone on why his administration is conducting more medical marijuana raids than the Bush administration, President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office.
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana…
Actually, what Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 was that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws.”
The shell game continued with Obama declaring that, as President, he “can’t ask the Justice Department to…‘ignore…a federal law that’s on the books.’”
In fact, Obama has complete discretion to let local and state authorities enforce their own medical marijuana laws. When affirming that discretionary authority in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court also questioned the wisdom of going after medical marijuana patients.
Obama then declared that his Justice Department should use “prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize [its] resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”
That, however, seems to beg several questions, not the least of which is “how does one determine what “things” are “really doing folks damage?” Why is that not the purview of local and state officials to enforce? And, is the federal government doing more damage than it’s supposedly preventing? Keep in mind that the damage his administration has inflicted also impacts the fiscal bottom line of local and state governments. In California, dispensary closures precipitated by the federal crackdown have robbed the state of millions of dollars in lost taxes.
“The 10th Amendment forbids [the government] from selectively employing coercive tactics” on state and local governments to compel them to do its bidding in waging the war on drugs, reads the complaint filed [by the Americans for Safe Access] in federal court Thursday. In other words, the government should lock up every violator, or none at all. Also, the federal government can’t spook local and state governments so badly that it essentially forces the states to use cops to dictate policy.
Could this be the landmark case that lands the government’s War on Drugs before the Supreme Court? Maybe — and that’s something. Bear with us as we wax Hamiltonian and get all Federalist: The Constitution’s 10th Amendment reserves powers not specifically delegated to the Congress and federal authority to other governments, as in state or local governments. While marijuana is federally illegal, state and local governments can, nonetheless, make their own laws and must, according to the piece of paper (probably drafted on hemp paper, just like the Declaration of Independence) legally binding our states together, be left alone to do so. +
In her bid to defeat Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley for the state’s top cop job, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris had the full support of pro-pot groups like Americans for Safe Access, which mounted a full-on “Anybody But Cooley” campaign. And who knows? With fewer than 80,000 votes separating Harris from Cooley, the state’s estimated 750,000 medical cannabis patients could very well have provided the margin of victory.
If Harris is thankful for this, she has a funny way of showing it. Her draft guidelines on medical marijuana are “horrible” for the state’s patients, advocates say. And what’s more, they were likely written by law enforcement, which was no friend at all to Harris during the election season. +