Justice Marijuana

Smoke’em if You Got’em

This will rob a great many people of one of their favorite anti-Obama talking points. via TPM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government says it will not sue to stop the states of Colorado and Washington from allowing recreational marijuana use.

In a sweeping national policy announcement, the Justice Department outlined eight top priority areas for its enforcement of marijuana laws.

They range from preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors to preventing sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of states where it is legal under state law.

This is a significant development in that it may be the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs.

Without the threat of federal intervention, more states may follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado by legalizing marijuana.

The reported guidelines state that individuals may still face prosecution to prevent the following:

  • 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.

In other words — federal prosecutors will use common sense and prosecute individuals for obvious reasons such as selling to minors or diverting revenue to drug cartels. And from my understanding, these prioritizing guidelines apply to all cases and were sent to U.S. attorneys across the entire country, not just those located in states that have legalized marijuana.

Just as the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the enforcement of certain immigration laws over others, the Department of Justice may re-prioritize to focus on prosecuting the most egregious offenders of drug laws.

This is unprecedented territory, because the unthinking War on Drugs has been the status quo for over 40 years. Attorney General Eric Holder is backing up his speech to the American Bar Association with real action. But with that said, this is a first step and we shouldn’t expect it to be perfect or to proceed without a hitch.