Cannabis News DrugSense
  Eric Holder Gets an Earful on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on March 06, 2013 at 15:41:10 PT
By Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers 
Source: Miami Herald 

cannabis Washington, D.C. -- Attorney General Eric Holder is getting plenty of conflicting advice as he tries to figure out how the federal government should respond to the decision by voters in Washington state and Colorado to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The latest came Wednesday from Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who told Holder to focus on prosecuting larger federal crimes as he deals with the fallout of automatic spending cuts ordered by Congress.

“If you’re going to be – because of budget cuts – prioritizing matters, I would suggest there are more serious things than minor possession of marijuana, but it’s a personal view,” Leahy told Holder, adding that other states are sure to follow the lead of Washington and Colorado.

While Leahy urged leniency, others want Holder to use his job as the nation’s top law enforcement official to get tough with states that want to ignore federal drug laws.

On Tuesday, eight former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs said the Obama administration should move aggressively to nullify the state legalization laws.

And on the same day, a United Nations agency said the United States would be violating international drug treaties by allowing the state laws to stand.

Holder told senators that he’s reviewing the states’ new laws and plans a quick decision after having already met with governors of both states.

“We’ve had good communication. . . . I expect that we will have an ability to announce what our policy is going to be relatively soon,” Holder said.

With the state and federal laws clearly at odds, Holder is sure to face heat no matter what he decides. And so far, he has given little public indication of what he will do.

Marijuana advocates, however, are hoping that Holder’s boss, President Barack Obama, is on their side.

When the president was asked about the new state laws in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in December, Obama suggested that the federal government would be unlikely to take a hard line, saying: “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

As both Washington and Colorado continue with their plans to open marijuana dispensaries later this year, the legalization issue promises to get more attention on Capitol Hill in coming weeks.

Leahy announced earlier that he wants his committee to conduct a hearing into the differences among state and federal laws governing marijuana. He said he wants to make sure that state laws are respected and that state officials in Washington and Colorado who are charged with the licensing of marijuana retailers will not face federal criminal penalties.

Under federal law, marijuana remains a controlled substance, and possession or distribution of the drug is a criminal offense that can result in prison time.

In December, Leahy wrote a letter to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, saying that his committee had “a significant interest” in the issue and that Congress could act to end the uncertainty facing residents in Washington and Colorado.

As one option, Leahy said, the Federal Controlled Substances Act could be changed to allow for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, at least in places where it’s already legal under state law.

In the House, two bills were introduced last month that would end the federal prohibition against marijuana and create new regulatory systems to deal with its legalization.

One, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and allow it to be regulated much like alcohol at the federal level. The second, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, would create a federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana.

Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Author: Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers
Published: March 6, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Miami Herald

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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 07, 2013 at 08:21:19 PT
A bureaucrat's worst nightmare?
The elimination of their bureau.

The second worst thing? Budget cuts.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by The GCW on March 07, 2013 at 04:58:39 PT
Let states set their own pot policies

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by afterburner on March 06, 2013 at 19:46:37 PT
'Canada beating up on us; US becoming more open'
Marijuana: Medical Papers(1839-1972)

700 Medicinal Uses Of Cannabis Sorted By Disease

How Pot Saved My Life

CN AB: Weed Growers Feeling Burned, The Calgary Sun, (02 Mar 2013)

ARCHIVED — Canada Gazette – Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations

The new MMAR in Canada ??? [over at Cannabis Culture]


"Yeah they are shutting down the MMAR and setting up the MMPR, which will not allow for personal licenses. That is why we were protesting last week. Too bad most people with licenses were too busy trying to make money under the old system and not out on the streets protesting the new one."

"...a sad day and I don't see any Cdn politician changing things and it is iconic that Canada is beating up on us while the US is becoming more open to this.."

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 06, 2013 at 18:33:42 PT
Chief Flynn, U.S. Drug Czar Discuss Marijuana
March 6, 2013

While Milwaukee police aren't in a "war on drugs," the other extreme - legalization of marijuana - could be a costly and dangerous experiment, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said Wednesday at Marquette University Law School.

Flynn spoke at a Marquette "On the Issues" forum alongside President Barack Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske.

Flynn commended the "Third Way" policy of the director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, which emphasizes treatment, prevention and scientific research over the criminalization and enforcement that has characterized the War on Drugs policy since the 1970s.

Kerlikowske talked Wednesday of a "21st Century" approach that looks at drugs as a public health problem rather than a criminal one.

"You can't arrest your way out of this drug problem," he said.

Flynn was on the same page.

"We in the police have learned over the last 20 years that we're not at war with anybody," the Milwaukee chief said. "We're going to work to develop neighborhoods capable of sustaining civic life. The war on crime metaphor made it aggressive and something you did to the community, not with the community."

On the other hand, legalizing marijuana, as Colorado and Washington state have recently done, may end in escalating public health costs in a country that currently criminalizes public health issues, Flynn said. Legalizing alcohol, he said, gave legitimacy to a drug that has "extraordinary social costs," with impacts on family violence, unemployment, crime and addiction.


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