Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, recently announced that the DOJ will allow the legalization of cannabis in Washington and Colorado. While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it has been legalized for recreational use in both states. Recreational users and those using cannabis as a medicine have been rejoicing since the beginning of the year, but had remained nervous due to potential federal crackdowns. It appears the smoke has been cleared; Washington and Colorado are completely free to ingest cannabis without interference at the federal level, well almost completely.
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Although the DOJ has reserved the right to file a lawsuit against the states, they have taken a “trust but verify approach” to the new state laws. According to Deputy Attorney General James Cole,
The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.
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Despite a new level of state freedom, the DOJ will still prosecute individuals to prevent:
the distribution of marijuana to minors;
revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
Regardless of the stringent guidelines, this represents another huge step in the right direction.
Illinois, the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana, along with Washington D.C. is part of a growing list of regions in America that want an end to the fruitless War on Drugs, and free access to a totally non-toxic, highly effective medicine.
Despite former heads of the DEA warning the federal government earlier this year that allowing state legalization of cannabis would be dangerous, a growing number of Americans aren’t buying the mindless propaganda. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance accurately states that:
The former DEA chiefs’ statement can best be seen as a self-interested plea to validate the costly and failed policies they championed but that Americans are now rejecting at the ballot box.
Some of the most outspoken individuals against the DOJ’s decision are police officers and police chiefs across the country. Law enforcement officers have already begun protesting the decision.
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Despite the role of police as ‘law enforcement,’ they have decided that they are better suited as political activists.
According to a letter submitted to the DOJ from police groups around the nation:
It is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations — whose members will be directly impacted — for meaningful input ahead of this important decision.
Now, when the police say they will be directly impacted, they are not referring to work load or moral obligations, they are referring to the almighty dollar. Cannabis crackdowns makes up a large portion of police funding, and without being able to destroy the lives of peaceful, pot smoking citizens, a large portion of officers may very well become unnecessary. Less criminals means less police.
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According to the police groups,
The failure of the Federal government to act in this matter is an open invitation to other states to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law.
For once, let’s hope the police are right. Not only will the DOJ’s decision give freedom back to states and individuals, it will also allow a medley of marijuana stocks to leave their penny stock status and enter the market place, providing additional state and federal revenue and more jobs. Who knows, maybe all the cops made redundant can get a job at a pot shop.
In the poignant words of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.),
the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use.