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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:58 PM

Members of Congress Implore Feds To Back Down On Marijuana Prosecution

Source: ThinkProgress


By Nicole Flatow on Nov 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

In light of the marijuana legalization measures passed in Washington and Colorado, 18 members of Congress are asking the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration not to take enforcement action against any individual complying with state law, while two others introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to formally exempt states with marijuana laws from the federal counterpart.

In a letter to the two agencies Friday, U.S. House members from states with marijuana legalization laws, as well as civil rights champions including Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), implored federal officials to permit states to serve as the “laboratories of democracy” and implement a drug policy that may finally eliminate disproportionate racial impact and get to the root of public health and safety problems associated with the illicit marijuana trade:

The people of Colorado and Washington have decided that marijuana ought to be regulated like alcohol, with strong and efficient regulation of production, retail sales and distribution, coupled with strict laws against underage use and driving while intoxicated. The voters chose to eliminate the illegal marijuana market controlled by cartels and criminals and recognized the disproportionate impact that marijuana has on minorities. These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments. We believe this approach embraces the goals of existing federal marijuana law: to stop international trafficking, deter domestic organized criminal organizations, stop violence associated with the drug trade and protect children.

While we recognize that other states have chosen a different path, and further understand that the federal government has an important role to play in protecting against interstate shipments of marijuana leaving Colorado and Washington, we ask that your departments take no action against anyone who acts in compliance with the laws of Colorado, Washington and any other states that choose to regulate marijuana for medicinal or personal use. The voters of these states chose, by a substantial margin, to forge a new and effective policy with respect to marijuana. The tide of public opinion is changing both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country. We believe that the collective judgment of voters and state lawmakers must be respected.


Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/11/19/1212341/members-of-congress-ask-feds-to-back-down-on-marijuana-prosecution/

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Reply Members of Congress Implore Feds To Back Down On Marijuana Prosecution (Original post)
DonViejo Nov 2012 OP
Suji to Seoul Nov 2012 #1
wordpix Nov 2012 #29
CaliforniaPeggy Nov 2012 #2
Cal Carpenter Nov 2012 #3
WillyT Nov 2012 #4
DeSwiss Nov 2012 #5
guyton Nov 2012 #6
Xithras Nov 2012 #13
AngryAmish Nov 2012 #17
Uncle Joe Nov 2012 #24
guyton Nov 2012 #19
quakerboy Nov 2012 #21
Xithras Nov 2012 #22
tridim Nov 2012 #34
Gruenemann Nov 2012 #14
guyton Nov 2012 #20
rhett o rick Nov 2012 #23
guyton Nov 2012 #26
rhett o rick Nov 2012 #28
workinclasszero Nov 2012 #7
duhneece Nov 2012 #10
workinclasszero Nov 2012 #16
wordpix Nov 2012 #30
ccavagnolo Nov 2012 #8
gateley Nov 2012 #12
hockeynut57 Nov 2012 #9
adirondacker Nov 2012 #11
DollarBillHines Nov 2012 #15
eridani Nov 2012 #32
Comrade Grumpy Nov 2012 #38
DollarBillHines Nov 2012 #39
fightthegoodfightnow Nov 2012 #18
Uncle Joe Nov 2012 #25
Eyes of the World Nov 2012 #27
RainDog Nov 2012 #31
dotymed Nov 2012 #33
lib2DaBone Nov 2012 #35
Oldenuff Nov 2012 #36
Bluenorthwest Nov 2012 #37

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:02 PM

1. +1000 for ending the hopeless money and human life destroying pit of the drug war

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Response to Suji to Seoul (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 07:56 PM

29. if these Congresspeople need us to watch their backs on this, use me. Stop the drug war, period.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:09 PM

2. We are way past due for rational drug laws. These states have taken the first, important step.

I hope the Feds are listening, and will act accordingly.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:26 PM

3. Good to see this discussed in terms of justice

Particularly as the drug war has such class and race based disparities.

Far too often I see people here hung up on the whole 'stoner' thing or the medical aspect of it when ultimately it is about this fucked up drug war that increases crime and disproportionately impacts low income people and communities of color.

It has less to do with getting buzzed than it does with lowering incarceration rates in often for profit prisons filled with nonviolent 'offenders'.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:50 PM

4. HUGE K & R !!!




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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 01:52 PM

5. K&R

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:15 PM

6. selective enforcement ... really?

Excuse the distraction, but I'm confused and google is failing me ...

Are there federal laws explicitly banning marijuana sale and use or is it simply a "banned" substance on some DOJ/DEA list?

I.e. what exactly needs to change to remove the federal ban? Is it just a policy decision by the admin or does some statute need to get repealed?

In general I'm not in favor of selective enforcement ... too easily abused. If a law is bad, repeal it!

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Response to guyton (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:31 PM

13. Marijuana may be a legally tricky one to simply "legalize"

I was at a forum discussion a few years ago when someone asked this question, and as I recall the answer was a bit more complicated than most people thought.

Marijuana is today regulated primarily under its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The DEA has the right to add any substance to a Schedule and to move it between Schedules without Congressional approval. The DEA can also remove drugs from the list without Congressional approval, providing de facto legalization for most drugs. The Controlled Substances Act gives the DEA a huge amount of authority to determine which substances are legal, and which schedule restricted drugs are listed on (there is a check against their authority with the HHS when regulating new drugs, but that's it).

Marijuana, opium, and a few others are a little trickier though. Those drugs have been variously banned and taxed under a collection of OTHER laws dating back more than a century. Some of those laws were superseded by other later laws, but some were not and are technically still valid today. They're usually ignored by prosecutors who work under the more modern Controlled Substances Act, but people could still be punitively taxed and prosecuted under several of them if marijuana were legalized under the CSA.

Another problem is that the USA is signatory to at least two major international treaties on drug production that specifically mention marijuana by name, and those international treaties very specifically prohibit the personal cultivation or commercial sale of cannabis. The Controlled Substances Act actually contains a provision that gives the DEA the ability to immediately regulate drugs, EVEN IF CONGRESS SAYS THEY ARE LEGAL, if the drug is prohibited by a ratified international treaty.

The opinion of the presenter was that the ONLY way to really obtain marijuana legalization and GUARANTEE a protection from prosecution was to pass a new federal law that explicitly legalized cannabis and its derivatives, and superseded all previous laws regulating its sale or use, and rejected the international treaty provisions that ban it (or replaced the portions of the CSA that allows the DEA to ignore Congress). The repeal cannot just be an administrative decision, because doing so would simply leave cannibis cultivators subject to the prosecutorial whims of future administrations.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:53 PM

17. Very, very interesting

I have heard of some litigation that says schedule 1 status for MJ is arbitrary and capricious. We have to see where that goes.

The hard part would be repudiating the treaties. I wonder if they have opt out provisions.

This is what I would do: make a law that repealed all the old laws but not the controlled substance act. Same ledgislation would direct DEA to remove MJ from schedule 1. Then zero fund all federal law enforcement from enforcing the treaties.

But that said I have no problem outlawing the import of MJ.

interesting problem

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Response to AngryAmish (Reply #17)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:28 PM

24. Repudiating treaties is easy, they just need to change the verbiage to "enhanced drug enforcement."

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Response to Xithras (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:08 PM

19. thanks!

I figured it wasn't terribly simple ... the spectacle of a petition from Congress urging the DOJ to just ignore the law doesn't seem like the preferred approach.

Passing legislation that instructs the DEA to remove marijuana from the controlled substances list seems like a good first step, along with repealing the provision in the Controlled Substances Act that lets them ignore Congress.

Wonder how hard it'd be to get the provisions in the treaties modified/repealed. Though come to think of it, we're currently bound by treaty to prosecute torture ... and that sure seems to have been roundly ignored


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Response to Xithras (Reply #13)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 05:42 PM

21. Interesting

But in the end, I think that an administrative decision would be a good thing. If the DEA were to simply remove it from schedule 1, it would open the door for more, and it would remove the immediate concern. Make it an everyday substance for americans, like Alcohol, leave it that way for 10 years, and I dare you to just switch it back.

Once the door is open, the other technicalities can be dealt with. Congress is better at tweaking irrelevant laws than they are at instituting major changes that may anger some voters.

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Response to quakerboy (Reply #21)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:13 PM

22. You're right, and he said as much, but...

..as I said in the last paragraph, going the administrative route leaves the door open for future administrations to "change their minds".

It would essentially be re-creating the current situation with porn. Currently, online hardcore porn is illegal in the United States, though nobody enforces the law. Willard made a lot of fans (sarc) last July when he promised to vigorously crack down on porn if he was elected President. Many on the left didn't take it all that seriously, but the reality is that he could have done so quite easily, and completly legally. Broadcasting hardcore porn across the Internet is illegal in the United States under the Miller Test, and the President could order drug war style raids on porn producers with nothing more than a phone call. A few weeks ago, we dodged that reality by only a few percentage points at the polls.

I'm not eager to put marijuana in that same position, where the DEA under one President drops enforcement, but the freedom of growers is left to the political whims of people who get into office later.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #13)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 08:07 AM

34. This is why I'm pushing for global legalization now. It's the only way to be sure.

And also the only way to stop DEA and other enforcement from campling out at various state and national borders waiting to arrest millions of tourists returning home.

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Response to Gruenemann (Reply #14)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:11 PM

20. lower taxes!

Love it ... so the teabaggers should be on board with getting rid of it!

Although the wiki says that it was "repealed by the 1970 Act" (the Controlled Substances Act)

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Response to guyton (Reply #6)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:15 PM

23. Maybe you would like it better if it was referred to as "adjusting priorities".

More resources should be spent on Wall Street than persecuting marijuana users esp medical users.

Selective enforcement is one of the balances of power afforded to the President and has been a useful tool for ever.

The President can prioritize the utilization of enforcement resources.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #23)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:32 PM

26. it's just not anywhere close to enough

Concurrent efforts need to be made to decriminalize it ... or the next admin could easily decide to prosecute.

The states will be taxing and regulating marijuana. It's not a stretch to imagine an incoming administration grabbing those records and sending 'em all to jail.

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Response to guyton (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 07:20 PM

28. Of course I believe it should be legalized. But until it is, the least the President could do would

reduce the priority on prosecution, esp in those states that indicate that's what they prefer.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:25 PM

7. Now that the Teapublican Inquisition has been beaten back and the Prez re-elected..

Can this country ...FINALLY...move into the 21st century?

Anybody with two brain cells to rub together can see that pot is waaaaay less harmful to individuals and society as a whole than the totally legal and approved alcohol is. How many non violent "criminals" could be turned out of prisons, saving taxpayers millions?

We could free up thousands of police man hours they could devote to real, violent criminals that are actual threats to society. We could regulate and tax pot and raise BILLIONS of dollars in revenue virtually overnight!

It would create hundreds of thousands of jobs! People and stores selling it, construction of warehouses to store it and new types of "bars" to consume it in social settings.

We could destroy or seriously weaken giant and violent drug cartels without risking anyones life, much more than the laughable war on drugs ever did!

Legalizing pot is the biggest NO BRAINER move the government could ever do!

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Response to workinclasszero (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:02 PM

10. You have a way with words, workingclass

And you are so right.

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Response to duhneece (Reply #10)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:53 PM

16. Thanks :) This is how the democrats can take control of the House in 2014

Get pot legalization on the ballot in every state that doesn't have it at that time. The youth vote will be HUGE! And they are the natural allies of the democratic party!

Old libs will be coming outta the woodwork to vote on that also! Even freaking libertarians will get behind it.

Meanwhile the Taliban wing of the repig party would be having a mouth foaming fit as they see their fascist candidates go down huge, nationwide...for. the. last. time!!!!!!

Then President O could really get the damn job done baby!!!! YEAH!

Afterwords we can all go smoke natures herb and party our asses off over the grave of Reagan/Bush republicanism that damn near destroyed the USA, not to mention, the world!

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Response to workinclasszero (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 07:58 PM

30. no. R's still want blood - Susan Rice, Van Jones, keep Eliz Warren off Sen. Banking Comm...

you'd think they won the election but they LOST and they STILL think they're in charge

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:37 PM

8. "a drug policy that may finally eliminate disproportionate racial impact"

in washington and colorado? washington state is over 90% white, colorado isn't that far off. i hope these laws follow in the southern states where the racial make up is more level and the prisons are in the hands of the private sector.

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Response to ccavagnolo (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:19 PM

12. Ask the 10% (or whatever) of Non-Whites here in WA if they feel they are disproportionately

targeted.

I don't care what the percentage is -- there is plenty of disproportionate racial impact.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:46 PM

9. the right is always bitching about the loss of liberties

caused by the left. why is it the party that wants no regulation in the boardroom wants to regulate what i do in my bedroom and livingroom. this a step in the right direction. i hope i see the day when onlly bad peole are in jail

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:16 PM

11. It's High Time! n/t

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:43 PM

15. "cartels and criminals" will be replaced by bankers and ruthless businessmen

This will not be like a simple flip of a switch.

I doubt more than a few percent of the voters in those two states have any idea of what a commercial-scale indoor grow involves.

There is a public perception of pretty little outdoor grows and hippies with a small cottage-sized indoor grow. I know guys who have indoor grows bigger than gymnasiums (one is the size of a football field), where the workers live in the grow and the four seasons are replicated. The carbon footprint of those grows are huge.

Once pot goes commercial (distribution, sales reps, retail and sales tax) the price is going to skyrocket. That's where this is headed.

And then there is the matter of regulation. What strains will be recognized and which will not? Dollars will decide. Ultimately, it will be akin to liquor distribution.

For instance, if our wine comes in at 14+%, the state taxes skyrocket. One can bet one's bottom dollar that the same sort of guidelines will apply to pot.

This will all lead to a long and winding road. The voters are thinking locally and small.

The real deal is something else, completely.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have at least a dozen strains in jars in my pantry.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #15)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 07:15 AM

32. I've heard third hand that small dealers are dropping their prices because their own suppliers--

--no longer have protection expenses.

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Response to DollarBillHines (Reply #15)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 11:42 AM

38. It is silly to say the price of pot would "skyrocket" under legalization.

It's an agricultural commodity. In a real free market, it would be priced like tomatoes or wheat. The production cost of growing pot is negligible, especially outdoors (and the only reason it's grown indoors is because it's illegal).

That's part of the reason these legalization schemes always envision significant taxation--to keep the price from getting too low. The fear is that if pot is too cheap, usage levels will climb.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #38)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:56 PM

39. Really? How many growers do you know?

I know dozens of high-end growers. They are all against legalization because few of them will be able to compete when big money kicks in.

Almost all legal, commercial grow will be indoor when weed is regulated. Strains will be narrowly defined, just wait and see. This won't be like cornfields. You can bet your ass that Pharma will write the regs.

There is a big difference between 'decriminalization' and 'legalization'. That's why the Props were for 'legalization', so weed can be regulated.

Out here (NorCal), we like it just like it is.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 03:55 PM

18. Thanks Don for Posting

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:29 PM

25. Good for the Congresspeople.

Thanks for the thread, DonViejo.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 06:51 PM

27. 18 out of 435

 

What is that, 4% ?

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 10:33 PM

31. Great News!!

This is such an interesting issue to watch and see how it plays out.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 07:46 AM

33. BRAVO to the small percentage of Congressman who have the foresight and initiative to ask for some

intelligent thinking regarding marijuana. This should have been a heavy majority letter. We are heading in the right direction.
I hear and believe that many dollars of campaign "contributions" are from illegal drug profits whose donors want to ensure the continued illegal status of marijuana.
From organized crime to for-profit prisons, and many in between, the profit realized from marijuana prohibition is huge. Citizens United must be legislated into obscurity for many reasons.
Many of our most wealthy and prestigious families made or vastly increased their wealth from alcohol prohibition. For and by the people. We must strive (under both parties) to make this a reality. It is a great idea but has never had the chance to operate as it was envisioned. We must make it happen. Stop the suffering of the non-elites and allow life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for all.
This has the possibility of greatly increasing our governments revenue and creating many "green" jobs.
Why is hemp illegal? It"s uses and possibilities are unlimited. Strong fibers for fabrics, possible alternative energy source, it can replace carbon in many instances, construction.....limitless...
Common sense, stop protecting profits for the wealthy. Kill Citizens United.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 06:10 PM

35. Sanity will increase...and the number of drugs will go down...

 

Drugs will go down.. if only Obama will call off his attack dogs.

End of prohibition.

It is amazing the amount of grief, suffering, and constituional viiolations
that go unchecked.. while the u.s. IS FACE with collapse and apoligiated.

Morr Enatrash


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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 01:08 AM

36. UN official calls for marijuana ballot rollback

VIENNA—The head of the U.N. drug watchdog agency is urging U.S. federal officials to challenge ballot measures in Colorado and Washington that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and over.

Raymond Yans says the approvals send "a wrong message to the rest of the nation and it sends a wrong message abroad."



So,will "Eric the Spineless cave"?A parting shot at the rights of people to do as they please,and then exit?

The rest of the "surrender all your rights to the UN,and we will decide what is good for you" article here:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_22034126/un-official-calls-marijuana-ballot-rollback

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Response to Oldenuff (Reply #36)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 08:15 AM

37. Raymond Yans is Belgian, so his own nation has marijuana legalization for years now.

So he's a huge hypocrite. Belgian law allows selling of seeds, growing of plants, and possession of up small amounts, all of that is legal, not 'decriminalized' but legal. In the country Yans actually gets to vote in, marijuana is more legal today than it is anywhere in the US.

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