Administration Weighs Legal Action Against States 
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Administration Weighs Legal Action Against States 
Posted by CN Staff on December 06, 2012 at 20:04:26 PT
By Charles Savage
Source: New York Times 
Washington, D.C. -- Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states, according to several people familiar with the deliberations. Even as marijuana legalization supporters are celebrating their victories in the two states, the Obama administration has been holding high-level meetings since the election to debate the response of federal law enforcement agencies to the decriminalization efforts.
Marijuana use in both states continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. One option is to sue the states on the grounds that any effort to regulate marijuana is pre-empted by federal law. Should the Justice Department prevail, it would raise the possibility of striking down the entire initiatives on the theory that voters would not have approved legalizing the drug without tight regulations and licensing similar to controls on hard alcohol. Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response. But such a response would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him. “It’s a sticky wicket for Obama,” said Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, saying any aggressive move on such a high-profile question would be seen as “a slap in the face to his base right after they’ve just handed him a chance to realize his presidential dreams.” Federal officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. Several cautioned that the issue had raised complex legal and policy considerations — including enforcement priorities, litigation strategy and the impact of international antidrug treaties — that remain unresolved, and that no decision was imminent. The Obama administration declined to comment on the deliberations, but pointed to a statement the Justice Department issued on Wednesday — the day before the initiative took effect in Washington — in the name of the United States attorney in Seattle, Jenny A. Durkan. She warned Washington residents that the drug remained illegal. “In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” she said. “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6 in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.” Ms. Durkan’s statement also hinted at the deliberations behind closed doors, saying: “The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State. The department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.” Federal officials have relied on their more numerous state and local counterparts to handle smaller marijuana cases. In reviewing how to respond to the new gap, the interagency task force — which includes Justice Department headquarters, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department and the offices of the White House Counsel and the director of National Drug Control Policy — is considering several strategies, officials said. One option is for federal prosecutors to bring some cases against low-level marijuana users of the sort they until now have rarely bothered with, waiting for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because the drug is now legal in that state. The department could then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps the state one. A more aggressive option is for the Justice Department to file lawsuits against the states to prevent them from setting up systems to regulate and tax marijuana, as the initiatives contemplated. If a court agrees that such regulations are pre-empted by federal ones, it will open the door to a broader ruling about whether the regulatory provisions can be “severed” from those eliminating state prohibitions — or whether the entire initiatives must be struck down. Another potential avenue would be to cut off federal grants to the states unless their legislatures restored antimarijuana laws, said Gregory Katsas, who led the civil division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Katsas said he was skeptical that a pre-emption lawsuit would succeed. He said he was also skeptical that it was necessary, since the federal government could prosecute marijuana cases in those states regardless of whether the states regulated the drug. Still, federal resources are limited. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued a policy for handling states that have legalized medical marijuana. It says federal officials should generally not use their limited resources to go after small-time users, but should for large-scale trafficking organizations. The result has been more federal raids on dispensaries than many liberals had expected. A version of this article appeared in print on December 7, 2012, on page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Administration Weighs Legal Action Against States That Legalized Marijuana Use.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Charles SavagePublished: December 7, 2012Copyright: 2012 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 10, 2012 at 04:53:16 PT
Why Does Money Mean So Much?
I am happy that we don't have to worry about money anymore. I never thought we would be in this position. I am grateful beyond belief. I don't want more and more of things. I am the same person and care and worry about those who are struggling. I guess that is why I am a Democrat and could never be a Republican.
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Comment #12 posted by Had Enough on December 09, 2012 at 19:59:28 PT
Fiscal Cliff
Fiscal Cliff is just more ‘Look over there…there’s some thing shiny’… divide and concur tactics... The Republicans have to make sure the places where they get their coin from are happy…or else they will be replaced with people who will…Did you notice all the silly ‘splainin’ Carl Rove ‘The Architect’ was doing… after convincing and collecting all those millions of dollars from the rich guys… with his promises of green (money) pastures to them… I think his credibility to dupe the voters are history amongst the elitists at this time… I can just imagine some of the comments in private conversations the money mongers that gave all that money up... have to say about him now…
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Comment #11 posted by MikeEEEEE on December 07, 2012 at 19:53:16 PT
Best to understand the creatures raking it in--from stealing, using your money for war and special interest$, to stealing from programs paid in from most employee pay checks (Medicare, Social Security, etc.). Most sheepie are easy pickings. Sad but true, after being screwed time after time, many people will suffer. Notice the proganda network is hard at work on the agenda. Realize this, their is a culture war going on (besides others), the biggest squeeze on lower classes in modern history. If you remember anything, keep this quote in mind, from a RETIRED govt offical, "Democrats steal money because they need it, republicans steal it because it's fun--not that they need the money."When enforcement gets its marching orders, a last desparate effort to install controls will occur. Will enforcement respect the will of the state, will the corporation tolerate such freedom?
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 07, 2012 at 17:52:07 PT
I agree with the article. We won't fall off a cliff. The Republicans just don't want to have taxes raised on the rich but want to cut benefits like Cola, raise the age for Social Security Benefits to be paid and don't want negotiations on drug prices. It is very obvious what is important to them.
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Comment #9 posted by MikeEEEEE on December 07, 2012 at 14:43:59 PT
Cliff Note
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on December 07, 2012 at 08:56:40 PT
Fiscal Cliff
I can't barely stand to watch the news with all of this talk about the fiscal cliff. Talk about marijuana legalization and stop with this fiscal cliff stuff! 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 07, 2012 at 08:53:46 PT
I am keeping my fingers crossed that things will go in our favor. Obama knows this is wrong. No one that ever smoked and enjoyed cannabis can believe the laws should continue this way. 
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Comment #6 posted by BGreen on December 07, 2012 at 08:32:05 PT
I agree, FoM
The real test of our winning will be when Joe Biden finally admits he was personally culpable in the persecution of millions of innocent Americans and throws his support behind our civil rights just as he did with the LBGT community.When Biden does that, Obama will have the opening he's been looking for. :)Bud
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on December 07, 2012 at 05:32:28 PT
You and I really think so much the same. This has to happen. I know Federal Law over powers state law and always has. Nothing can be 100% fixed until the Federal law is changed. Obama also knows that.
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on December 07, 2012 at 05:21:41 PT
Read below, Big Money is in control:
For companies like Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) and GEO Group (GEO), the downside risk to marijuana legalization could be substantial. Recent reports from the analyst community make general mentions of policy changes as an ongoing risk factor, but make no specific mention of changes to drug laws. SunTrust cited the risk of "change[s] in state or federal policies and funding that reduce inmate populations," and a post-election report from Macquarie included similar language. Otherwise, analysts are very positive on the stock, and are focused mostly on the company's short-term plans to convert to a real estate investment trust. During the Q3 earnings call on November 8, an analyst asked about a referendum in California to reclassify some "three strikes" inmates, but no other policy changes were mentioned. While changes in drug policy have not been a focus of industry analysts, CXW itself is more straightforward; each year's 10-K filing with the SEC includes the following in the "Risk Factors" section: "The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them." ** That is, fewer people in prison because of drug charges would mean lower profits for companies in the prison business. As the largest private owner of prisons in the U.S., CCA operates 66 facilities housing 91,000 beds. The company manages 45% of the for-profit prison space under contract with state and federal governments. And while the company has some revenue from prison transport operations and from income related to its real estate holdings, the vast majority of revenues come from housing inmates. Drug policy may actually be the key driver of profits for the prison industry. A study released in September from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that growth in the federal prison population was outpacing prison capacity, and that the main drivers of overcrowding were the drug war and especially harsh federal drug sentencing. And marijuana-related charges are a big part of that picture: 2007 data from the Department of Justice showed that marijuana possession charges comprised more than 42% of federal drug charges (another 5% were for sale and manufacture), and that marijuana arrests were rapidly outpacing all other drugs. 
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Comment #3 posted by BGreen on December 06, 2012 at 22:00:01 PT
Obama won't attack the states
I really believe that part of the intent on the crackdown of the medical dispensaries over the past few years was to garner support for full legalization. If Obama would have let the dispensaries exist unchecked then it would have legitimized this horrible mode of cannabis distribution, putting millions of dollars into the hands of profiteers selling cannabis for prices far surpassing the black market price to anyone able to purchase a "get out of jail card" from the state. By pushing the people the Obama administration expedited the move towards legal cannabis for adults.This is the first president in my lifetime who wasn't just a bombastic liar, acting without thinking and displaying the single male trait I hate the most ... mindless machismo.It's the same way with the previous election cycle. Obama was able to spur the economy by getting the wealthiest people to throw millions into the attempt to defeat him. Talk about a spending stimulus. These rich people who usually hide their money overseas to keep it out of our economy were duped into actually investing into our own economy.I really believe that the first debate was a ruse. Obama knew he had to keep the impression that Romney had a chance or else the multitude of millionaires and billionaires would have seen the futility and stopped the money flow.President Obama has shown over and over again that he is able to shape mindsets and policies by using his brain instead of brawn.I truly believe that any apparent kickback from this administration against legal cannabis is just a further attempt to push for unilateral legalization of cannabis and an end to the most futile war ever fought on American soil, the war on cannabis.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #2 posted by MikeEEEEE on December 06, 2012 at 20:26:53 PT
When are people going to learn?
These guys work for financial interests!!!!In a slap in the face, feds will use tax revenue from the voters to fight for their master$.
I smell a hugh lawsuit coming.
amerika has a history of not giving up on useless wars.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 06, 2012 at 20:12:25 PT
We Must Change The Federal Law
If we ever want any peace it must happen.
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