27 February 2009

attorney general eric holder: doj to comply with state law and president obama's campaign promises and stop medicinal marijuana dispensary raids

as the below video shows, then presidential candidate barack obama said that "using medical marijuana in the same way and controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, i think thats entirely appropriate" and "what i'am not going to be doing is using justice department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

however, on the day that attorney general eric holder spent his first full day in office, [he was sworn in on tuesday, 03 february 2009] the drug enforcement administration raided four california medical marijuana dispensaries.

on wednesday, 25 february 2009, attorney general holder and drug enforcement agency acting administrator, michele leonhart (a bush holdover) held a news conference to announce the results of "operation xcellerator," a multi-agency law enforcement effort led by the dea targeting the mexican drug trafficking cartel known as the sinaloa cartel. ~ full press conference at c-span or google video here.

near the end of the news conference in the question and answer portion, a.g. holder was questioned about those controversial dea medicinal marijuana raids that occurred shortly after he took office:
reporter: "on drugs policy, right after the inauguration there was some raids on california medical marijuana dispenciaries, was that a deliberate decision by you, by the justice department - the prediction of policy going forward, do you expect those sorts of raids to continue..."

attorney general holder: "no..." interrupted by reporter

reporter: "...despite what the president said during the campaign?"

attorney general holder: "well, what the president said during the campaign, you will be surprised to know will be consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement. he was my boss during the campaign. he is formally and technically and by law my boss now and so what he said during the campaign will and is now american policy."
while we wish that a.g. holder would have went further and said that the obama administration will honor states rights and all state law not just with respect to medical marijuana, we suppose that they have to start somewhere.

click here to download forty-one page .pdf [267 kb]

in the meantime, california assemblymember, tom ammiano, introduced his assembly bill no. 390 which according to to the press release from his official website is:

groundbreaking legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education act (AB 390) would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21.

"I support this legislation because I feel this issue should be the subject of legislative and public debate," said current San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey. Orange County Superior Court Judge (retired) James P. Gray added, "Assemblymember Ammiano is to be applauded in addressing this critical issue honestly and directly."

"Marijuana already plays a huge role in the California economy. It’s a revenue opportunity we quite simply can’t afford to ignore any longer," said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "It’s time to end the charade of marijuana prohibition, regulate the $14 billion market, and redirect law enforcement resources to more important matters. Assemblymember Ammiano has done the state an enormous service by breaking the silence on this commonsense solution."

"It is simply nonsensical that California's largest agricultural industry is completely unregulated and untaxed," said Marijuana Policy Project California policy director Aaron Smith. "With our state in an ongoing fiscal crisis -- and no one believes the new budget is the end of California's financial woes -- it's time to bring this major piece of our economy into the light of day." source
see also
oyez - supreme court media
gonzales v raich
and also
supreme court allows prosecution of medical marijuana
see also
the marijuana label in the footer of this post