Uncle Sam Gets Nasty

Feds Talk Tough about Medical Marijuana 050411

Eric Holder, chief cop under the Obama administration, has penned letters to states stating the feds will bust not only medical marijuana producers and distributors, but also state employees and elected representatives who cooperate with medical cannabis access laws.

This is a modest about face from what the Obama administration was saying a few years ago, but not the change some commentators want to insist it is.  Back then Holder was saying that it wasn’t cost effective to go after cannabis users and growers who were working within the state framework.  Holder’s new position actually reads like an addendum: but we didn’t know you would turn it into a state revenue source and hold freakin’ farmer’s markets of pot.

What’s at stake is the federal government’s right to regulate trade inside state borders.  The feds regulate many things, including prescription drugs, and while states may sometimes pass laws stricter than federal laws, no decent federal bureaucrat is going to allow uppity states to meddle in the area of government control over trade.  The rickety rationale for this goes back in to the 1800s when some poor goat farmer tried to grow unregulated grain to provide for his own stock.  The government insisted that while it was for his own consumption, he could, just as easily, sell the grain across the state line, so the feds better regulate it, just in case.

What was goat crap then is goat crap now.

Knowing the feds hate to relinquish power, we have to ask ourselves, will Holder sweep in with American troops and arrest our state and local officials?  Seems very unlikely indeed.  However, given the current threats by Holder, and an insistence from Drug Czar R. Gil Kerlikowske that the feds will never allow states to legalize cannabis of any kind, what choices do we have?

It is possible we could re-fight the Civil War to reassert state’s rights.  This seems like a bad idea in that it didn’t work out well last time, and this time the feds have nuclear capability.  I’d miss the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Perhaps a better solution would come from the source recommended by the Supreme Court in 2009 when they declined to rule on an appeal to a California court ruling: the legislature.

Our elected representatives can and should simply legalize cannabis.  Yes, yes, there are many reasons why this might be a bad idea, tobacco and alcohol are problems, blah blah, but the fact is that as a drug cannabis is simply not so insidious that it shouldn’t be up to the people, and their state and local governments, to regulate cannabis.  It would end the states’ rights/federal powers conundrum without damaging the ludicrous idea that the feds should control intra-state commerce. 

Will our elected legislators finally end federal bullying of the people of the states they represent?


We emailed McClintock, Boxer and Feinstein. 

The Senators received this message:

Laurenc DeVita here, from the Sierra County Prospect, an online newspaper in rural Northern California.

Eric Holder has threatened the 15 states with medical marijuana laws that the Federal government is going to intervene even in legal grow and distribution activities, and reports say he’s threatened to act against state officials who enable medical cannabis access.  Even the Supreme Court has attempted to refer the issue to congress.

Will the Senator support the rights of the people of the state to determine access to medical marijuana, or support federal legislation to de-list cannabis and legalize it as with alcohol and tobacco?  I’m sure the Senator recognizes that not only are our individual rights to self-determination at stake, so is the ability of the states to regulate and tax cannabis.

What will the Senator do?


McClintock got this query:

Recently the federal government has threatened the 15 states that have medical cannabis laws; California received one of those letters.  They threaten to curtail medical cannabis access and even to file charges against state personnel who implement medical cannabis laws.  Some analysts suggest that the executive branch is pushing the legislative branch to act on cannabis and so restore authority over the matter to the states.  Our question: will Mr. McClintock elect to act according to his libertarian principles and insist that the states be allowed to make their own determination on medical cannabis access, or will he bend to the conservative, anti-marijuana stance of his most dogmatic supporters and refuse to support the rights of the people of California to have access to cannabis?

Having sent these queries, we may imagine interns receiving our emails, saying “oh, my, this is from the Prospect!” and interrupting the legislators at their lunch with this difficult and important question, but that isn’t going to happen.  What will happen is that our inquiries will be seen as problematic, and eventually some nameless underling will forward the closest stock reply that they can find, or more likely, they’ll ignore the question all together.

As limp a likelihood as our elected representatives are to help us here, they are our only logical choice.  Let’s keep hammering for this important civil rights and states’ rights issue.

Besides, how can we ask California to secede from the Union over intra-state commerce when we’re about to secede from California over water?


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