Pot Reformers Aren't Afraid of Loretta Lynch
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Pot Reformers Aren't Afraid of Loretta Lynch
Posted by CN Staff on January 30, 2015 at 06:14:11 PT
By Steven Nelson
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. attorney general could decide tomorrow to begin a legal assault on state-regulated marijuana sales, and federal judges likely would rule in the Justice Department's favor. But reform advocates aren’t afraid attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch would do that, even if she personally opposes pot legalization.Lynch said she opposes legal sales of marijuana Wednesday during a Senate confirmation hearing in which she also said she disagrees with President Barack Obama about the harmfulness of the drug.
Obama told The New Yorker last year drinking alcohol is more dangerous than smoking pot, and he said “it’s important" for voter-approved legalization to proceed in Colorado and Washington state. Lynch, a federal prosecutor based in New York, said, “I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana. I certainly think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share.”Continuing, she said, “I can tell you that not only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.”U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch testifies during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015.  Though seemingly entrenched and broadly supported, state marijuana regulations are legally fragile, as possession of the drug for any reason – outside limited research – remains a federal crime. Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has allowed states to regulate and tax sales of pot for recreational use, saying in 2013 states could proceed so long as certain enforcement priorities weren't affected. But future attorneys general conceivably could bring legal sales to a screeching halt.Lynch did not commit to changing existing department policies, but Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., appreciated the candid response and told her, “I hope that you will cease to be silent."At the same hearing, Lynch carefully responded to questions from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying it “certainly would be my policy if confirmed as attorney general to continue enforcing the marijuana laws,” with a focus on violations of enforcement priorities already outlined by the department, such as marijuana being transported from states that allow recreational use to those that do not.Anti-legalization activists were tickled to learn of a potentially powerful ally. "We are breathing a sigh of relief," Kevin Sabet, president of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said in an email blast. "Ms. Lynch is a knowledgeable, experienced, justice-minded individual, and for her to come out so adamantly against legalization is extremely encouraging. It will give our efforts a shot in the arm."Lynch’s disagreement with Obama on marijuana in some ways mirrors disagreement expressed by Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart. Pro-legalization reformers who demanded the ouster of Leonhart for insubordination, however, aren’t particularly alarmed by Lynch’s comments.“We can only hope she was telling some lawmakers what they need to hear in order to get through the confirmation process,” says Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.“It would be shocking if she is actually unaware that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol,” Tvert says. “The CDC attributes tens of thousands of deaths each year to alcohol use alone, including hundreds from overdose, whereas no deaths are attributed solely to marijuana use and there’s never been a fatal overdose.”Tom Angell, chairman of the group Marijuana Majority, is likewise far from panic."We don't need federal officials to personally support legalization,” he says. “We only need them to respect the will of voters who have implemented legalization in their own states.”Angell says he heard in Lynch’s testimony a willingness to respect state marijuana laws. “As long as they don't spend resources trying to overturn those duly-enacted laws, I'm much less concerned about the personal views of Justice Department personnel,” he says.There was similarly muted reaction from congressional leaders who favor marijuana reform.Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., declined to take a whack at Lynch, merely responding to her comments in an emailed statement by saying "there are dangers in consuming marijuana, alcohol and soda pop," and that it's his opinion the cost of regulating people's choices "far outweighs the benefits."Alaska and Oregon residents voted to legalize marijuana in November, as did residents of the District of Columbia, though Republicans in Congress likely will block the opening of stores there. The Department of Justice said in December that American Indian tribes also can legalize marijuana, and several are considering doing so.Steven Nelson is a reporter at U.S. News & World Report. Source: U.S. News & World Report (US)Author:   Steven Nelson Published: January 29, 2015Copyright: 2015 U.S. News & World ReportWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on February 01, 2015 at 12:36:34 PT
Hope #2
As a government policy, cannabis prohibition is an international disaster!
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Comment #5 posted by runruff on February 01, 2015 at 09:23:31 PT
Endowed like a bull field mouse!
Never mind the NFL. Look at all the deflated balls in congress!
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on January 30, 2015 at 15:51:45 PT
settle in for the long haul
just because the people voted and the law changed doesn't mean the persecution will end. This isn't a representative democracy after all, it's an oligarchy.Look at this….Nazi-like persecution is alive and well in Denver: airport bans sale of marijuana-themed souvenirs
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on January 30, 2015 at 10:23:27 PT
Mason Tvert and Tom Angell
Right on!I agree with them... but gosh... I hate to try to hope against hope when it comes to politicians. Even when they have the courage to actually speak out... you never can be sure. So... I don't have hope in her... but my hope lies in all of us and our determination to right a grievous wrong. She could slow us down. She could push us back. But not far, if at all, and certainly not forever. 
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on January 30, 2015 at 09:53:17 PT
Yes, The GCW.
It certainly is one of the most important issues of our time. For sure.And it has nothing to do with "just wanting to use marijuana legally." The prohibition of marijuana is an injustice and a tragedy that has killed, destroyed, and caused such great harm to so many people.It's important. This is a very costly government policy that is disgustingly misbegotten and causes and has caused such great harm and loss. If just one person died because of this prohibition, it would be awful. But it's worse than that. Much worse. The prohibition of the leaves of the cannabis plant... has caused the death and destruction of the lives of many, and so unnecessarily. Including in the death toll, both the completely innocent and quite a few of the prohibitionists.It's so important and the people that deny that it is are being purposely ignorant.They can't, they won't, they refuse to accept that they made a mistake. A mistake that has cost and is still costing themselves and others so much. Sometimes, their very breath and blood.So they keep doing it. Adding to the harm that has been done. As government policy... it's a major issue that effects us all.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on January 30, 2015 at 07:35:38 PT
Ignoids can only reinforce they lost.
Like Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart, if Lynch decides to become increasingly IGNOID, the cannabis movement will expose the extent of IDIOT within. The result being international shame, failure to actually turn back clocks and potentially helping move the cannabis effort forward, not backwards.Presently, the atoms tearing down cannabis prohibition are stronger than the atoms holding up cannabis prohibition and discrimination.Lynch doesn't represent truth, And that's the truth. Further, I don't think anyone like a Lynch wishes for the cannabis issue to be the spotlight. Obama, who I believe values the type of people who came out of the woodworks to support Him into presidency can end that problem by ending the root of the problem.Years ago if someone were to predict when Obama would end cannabis prohibition, It might be later rather than sooner and now He is entering, later.Perhaps Lynch was chosen to do just that. Make and keep cannabis the spotlight.I've often said and written, ENDING CANNABIS PROHIBITION IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES OF OUR TIME.And it is.Isn't it?
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