Obama Administration Pledges To Ignore State Legalization of Pot And Crackdown On Users and Distributors

marijuana_leafPresObamaWe discussed earlier how, when trying to lure back liberal voters for his reelection, President Obama’s administration went into radio silence on its past crackdown on marijuana use, including medical marijuana. Then, the day after reelection, the Justice Department announced that it would continue its unpopular crackdown on pot distribution and possession. Now, after the legalization of marijuana use in Washington state, the Justice Department has announced that it would not yield to the citizens of the state and would continue its crackdown. The statement came from the office of the United States Attorney in Seattle, the highest ranking Justice official in the state.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle warned “[r]egardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. … Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.”

That is a curious statement since the Obama Administration recently did precisely that in the immigration area — it declared that it would no longer enforce the express law with regard to certain illegal aliens. It also refused to defend such laws as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Moreover, the Justice Department routinely makes decisions on the allocation of resources and priorities. Many citizens question the need and efficiency of fighting the use of pot, particularly for medical purposes. The statement from the highest DOJ attorney in the state is therefore not only misleading but appears intentionally misleading. It expressly states (wrongly) that the Administration has no choice but to prosecute the possession and distribution of marijuana.

It is also worth noting that the Administration did not need these state laws to alter its senseless actions in this area for the last four years. It has continued its policy despite widespread criticism and indeed these laws were responses to that ongoing federal campaign.

For the moment, federal agents stood aside as citizens in Washington celebrated the legalization of marijuana.  However, the message is clear — if belated after the election — that President Obama will continue the mindless campaign in the area. We have a huge bureaucracy that is entirely geared toward the prosecution of these cases, including the ability to keep “proceeds” seized in these raids by police and prosecutors. It has become something of a perpetual enforcement machine unconnected to any sense of priority or logic. It also denies the right of these states to go their own way under federalism principles.


Source: ABC

59 thoughts on “Obama Administration Pledges To Ignore State Legalization of Pot And Crackdown On Users and Distributors

  1. Would someone care to point out where in the constitution the Fed was granted the power to promulgate criminal laws?

    Prof. Charles Whitebread:

    The Harrison Act>

    “The very first criminal law at the Federal level in this country to criminalize the non-medical use of drugs came in 1914. It was called the Harrison Act and there are only three things about the Harrison Act that we need to focus on today.

    Number one is the date. Did you hear the date, 1914? Some of you may have come this morning thinking that we have used the criminal law to deal with the non-medical use of drugs since the beginning of the Republic or something. That is not true. The entire experiment of using the criminal sanction to deal with the non-medical use of drugs really began in this country in 1914 with the Harrison Act.

    The second interesting thing about the Harrison Act was the drugs to which it applied, because it applied to almost none of the drugs we would be concerned about today. The Harrison Act applied to opium, morphine and its various derivatives, and the derivatives of the coca leaf like cocaine. No mention anywhere there of amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, hashish, hallucinogenic drugs of any kind. The Harrison Act applied only to opium, morphine and its various derivatives and derivatives of the coca leaf like cocaine.

    The third and most interesting thing for you all as judges about the Harrison Act was its structure, because the structure of this law was very peculiar and became the model for every single piece of Federal legislation from 1914 right straight through 1969. And what was that model?

    It was called the Harrison Tax Act. You know, the drafters of the Harrison Act said very clearly on the floor of Congress what it was they wanted to achieve. They had two goals. They wanted to regulate the medical use of these drugs and they wanted to criminalize the non-medical use of these drugs. They had one problem. Look at the date — 1914. 1914 was probably the high water mark of the constitutional doctrine we today call “states’ rights” and, therefore, it was widely thought Congress did not have the power, number one, to regulate a particular profession, and number two, that Congress did not have the power to pass what was, and is still known, as a general criminal law. That’s why there were so few Federal Crimes until very recently.

    In the face of possible Constitutional opposition to what they wanted to do, the people in Congress who supported the Harrison Act came up with a novel idea. That is, they would masquerade this whole thing as though it were a tax. To show you how it worked, can I use some hypothetical figures to show you how this alleged tax worked?

    There were two taxes. The first (and again, these figures aren’t accurate but they will do to show the idea) tax was paid by doctors. It was a dollar a year and the doctors, in exchange for paying that one dollar tax, got a stamp from the Government that allowed them to prescribe these drugs for their patients so long as they followed the regulations in the statute. Do you see that by the payment of that one dollar tax, we have the doctors regulated? The doctors have to follow the regulations in the statute.

    And there was a second tax. (and again, these are hypothetical figures but they will show you how it worked.) was a tax of a thousand dollars of every single non-medical exchange of every one of these drugs. Well, since nobody was going to pay a thousand dollars in tax to exchange something which, in 1914, even in large quantities was worth about five dollars, the second tax wasn’t a tax either, it was a criminal prohibition. Now just to be sure you guys understand this, and I am sure you do, but just to make sure, let’s say that in 1915 somebody was found, let’s say, in possession of an ounce of cocaine out here on the street. What would be the Federal crime? Not possession of cocaine, or possession of a controlled substance. What was the crime? Tax evasion.

    And do you see what a wicked web that is going to be? As a quick preview, where then are we going to put the law enforcement arm for the criminalization of drugs for over forty years — in what department? The Treasury Department. Why, we are just out there collecting taxes and I will show you how that works in a minute.

    If you understand that taxing scheme then you understand why the national marijuana prohibition of 1937 was called the Marihuana Tax Act. ”

    Full Article:


  2. Only wanted to highlight the title of the section and

    “1914 was probably the high water mark of the constitutional doctrine we today call “states’ rights” and, therefore, it was widely thought Congress did not have the power, number one, to regulate a particular profession, and number two, that Congress did not have the power to pass what was, and is still known, as a general criminal law. That’s why there were so few Federal Crimes until very recently.”

  3. Th Feds are just enforcing the law as they are sworn to do.
    The law can be changed. If your representatives are not voicing the will of the people, they need to be replaced.

  4. He cannot do so. The National Security State, the prisons, the police, the various agencies of suppression–if they do not have illegals to kick around anymore–what i God’s name would they do, round up J-walkers, photographers of police in action, you, me and and my dogs.

  5. This is going to be one issue that unites Eastern and Western Washington, which usually are often fundamentally in opposition politically. Western WA wants to keep the Mary Jane for smoking purposes and Eastern WA doesn’t like the federal government telling it what to do. (The Gadsen Flag is probably the most flown flag after the American)

    I was in our state capital a few days ago and talked with a state rep from the rural areas in EW He has constituents that want to start growing MJ legally and he is looking out for them.

    I don’t see what the federal jurisdiction can be argued in a true sense here. Under I-502 (initiative process for MJ, oh, you don’t have a citizen’s initiative process on the Federal level. No wonder dope is still illegal) the VOTERS wanted our state to legalize and regulate Mary Jane. It’s OUR choice for OUR state.

    I don’t see any interstate or foreign commerce since the initiative requires the dope to be grown, harvested, processed, sold and possessed ONLY in WA. The US gov’t should not get involved.

    We might not be perfect here in WA, but unlike the federal gov’t we can at least balance our budget.

    I’ve never smoked marijuana and yes I have before arrested countless people in the past for doing so. But now that we in WA have decided it is OK for people to get baked and possess a lid of dope that’s our right!

    Don’t Tread on My Reefer!

  6. Great! bankers get to lie cheat and steal, they get bailouts and cabinet posts. States pass laws to legalize pot and now the Adminstration will continue pouring millions down the drug war rabbit hole. Madness.

  7. The fed is empowered by the facade of the drug war. They can launder money into projects that they would otherwise be transparent about. They make their friends rich with the prison construction and maintenance. The police unions like the bloated force misdirected. The para-militarization in subsidised by military casts offs. Basically the feds like a public in fear.

  8. Unfortunately, this type of criminal prosecution theater costs tax payers a bundle. It is time for the DOJ and the Administration to exercise their discretion in this area and focus on more important things like financial crime and voter suppression.

  9. 1914 was NOT the pinnacle of so-called states’ rights. States never had rights, only reserved powers! Besides, the year before the state had lost their check on the feds with the 17th Amendment. So Whitehead is completely incorrect on that point.

    That being said, the key to having the fed back off is to have the state and local police throw the feds in jail for violating state sovereignty, but no state or local LEO has the balls to do so.

  10. What Justice Holmes said in toto and what Dredd points to on the manpower issue. The “War of Drugs” is as miserable a failure as Prohibition was and for the very same reasons. The primary difference between now and then is they didn’t have a prevalent private prison industry and overblown LE budgets supporting essentially military suppliers. However, eventually the cost of enforcement and incarceration will be supplanted by the need to generate revenue and cut costs. When looking to cut costs, ineffective programs should always be cut first. There are few thing more ineffective than the futile War on Drugs Your Personal Freedoms.

    Let’s not forget what this is ultimately about after all. It’s not about public health or safety. It’s about oppression and subsidizing private prison profits.

  11. Administration Weighs Legal Action Against States That Legalized Marijuana Use
    Published: December 6, 2012

    WASHINGTON — 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. “

  12. “also refused to apply or defend such laws as the Defense of Marriage Act”

    Odd that you would say that. He certainly said that he would not defend DOMA when it was challenged in court, but he equally certainly is applying it, and I have never seen him quoted as saying that he would not do so. And when you say “such laws as,” what other laws were included in his statement?

  13. “However, the message is clear — if belated after the election — that President Obama will continue the mindless campaign in the area.”

    The DA’s statement was a factually accurate statement regarding the law. I wouldn’t read it as saying that nothing is going to change or that the Obama administration will crackdown on marijuana use in Washington or Colorado. As Swarthworth mom’s article indicate, the decision has not been made.

  14. Wait… Wait…. Don’t tell me…..Obama is going to enforce our civil rights…… He’s going to allow the states to exercise the 10th……. Bull hockey…..

    Bob Esq…… Right on…..

  15. The marijuana laws are based on lies. that is the only way one can describe the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. The government enshrined this lie, the hypocrisy is shown by the government itself having a patent on medical marijuana:

    “When I was at the Patients Out of Time Medical Cannabis conference in Asilomar this last April, I overheard a remark that startled me: “The US Government has a patent on cannabis.” I couldn’t locate the person who made the comment, so I went home and did some online research.

    Sure enough, patent number 6,630,507 states unequivocally that cannabinoids are useful in the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases including auto-immune disorders, stroke, trauma, Parkinson’s, Alzeheimer’s and HIV dementia. The patent, awarded in 2003, is based on research done by the National Institute of Health, and is assigned to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

    So, why is this important? Here is a legal document, in the public domain, which flies in the face of the US Government’s stated position with regard to the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance having no “currently accepted medical use”. Believe me, citing this patent stops the “medical marijuana is a myth” advocates dead in their tracks. They simply cannot argue with it.
    The forces that would keep cannabis illegal are vocal and well funded, but they are not impervious to persistent effort. The lynch pin in the War on Drugs is cannabis. Without the suppression and interdiction of this popular and widely used substance, there simply would not be enough “illegal drug use” going on to justify the huge amount of money and resources spent on “fighting drugs.”


  16. Bob, correctly set the tone of this discussion. What we see is the truth that the “Illegal Drug Industry/Drug Treatment Industry/ Prison Industry/DEA Complex has great power.

  17. Mike,

    I have to agree with justice Holmes…. Gene, Bob Esq and what you said.

    Do you really expect Obama to not violate our civil rights as granted to us by the 10th? So long as commerce clause is effective and money can be made, why not make everything a crime?

  18. If Obama was really interested in US manufacturing, he would support legalizing Industrial Hemp. Kentucky may be second after Colorado. Is he going to go after farmers growing industrial hemp as well? The manufacturers of hemp food and fabrics? Where is he going to draw the line?

    1. Industrial hemp is fine but medical marijuana is not,

    2. both will see crackdowns, or

    3. people will be left alone to use their medicine of choice and American industry will have a new food and cellulose product worth billions of dollars.


  19. Bob, Esq..

    Support for your professor from unexpected sources? Perhaps.


    Sobran’s point was that through the Harris Act, Congress broke the previous Constitutional barriar to making of laws which expanded Federal power into new areas. Previously the Constitution was interpreted as preventing new powers being added except by CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.

    An introductory excerpt:

    “If Washington and Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they’d notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it — powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it’s a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote. And the Americans of a much later era — the period from Cleveland to Coolidge, for example — would say we no longer live even under the Constitution they inherited and amended.”

  20. “nick spinelli1, December 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

    W was more progressive than Obama on this, ironic don’t you think?”

    George did far more and different illegal drugs than Obama has. He felt the skit was harmless. Am sure that he is still puffing away and smiling at what is happening.

  21. What Justice Holmes, Darren Smith, and Gene said.

    Are these laws the start of the domino effect in other states like the laws recognizing gay marriage? I would think that the fed and state law enforcement systems would be overloaded with enforcement personnel if marijuana was legalized in all 50 states. If so, it definitely wouldn’t help unemployment numbers.

  22. MikeS named it, what has not been named by anyone before him.

    The Illegal Drug Industry.
    Illegal Drugs are more profitable than legal cannabis.
    And until proven otherwise I will still believe that the CIA and HW Bush have been and are involved in this illegal industry.

    Besides, they get all the support of alcohol industry in the fight against competing substances.

    Tobacco kills, that’s proven. Do we have a war against its use?

  23. “MikeS named it, what has not been named by anyone before him.”


    We’re on the same page. If I was the head of an International Drug Cartel I would support the election campaigns of all those who want to keep all drugs illegal. It is interesting how there are some entities whose work dovetails with the drug cartels interests. Every large drug bust contributes to maintenance of high prices and following the money who benefits the most?

  24. Wells Fargo made a bundle laundering Mexican drug cartel money.

    Is the F.I.R.E. sector a big drug warrior? – why yes, yes they are.

  25. Shano, how can the feds patent an herb? I thought plants were non-patentable? I thought you might have stumbled across the answer to that one while you were researching it.

    another thing I just don’t understand is how the feds, who were set up to defend the states, coin money and make treaties with other countries, have gotten to the point where they are bossing our states around. I just don’t get that. I guess my southerness is showing, but I DO believe in state’s rights as laid out when our country was started. Ya know, actually, I’m really quite surprised that it wasn’t Texas to start this one!!!

  26. From the patent:

    Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH3, and COCH3. ##STR1##


  27. Well that explains right THERE why it’s illegal in a nutshell. We KNOW they don’t want cures for cancer; they’ve made that bloody obvious. They don’t want anything cutting into that multibillion dollar industry, now DO they! We’ve known that for years; Royal Raymond Rife, etc. Had they wanted to cure cancer, the info would have been out there long ago. The head of the AMA wanted to buy the rights to Rife’s cure for cancer. He wouldn’t sell it to him, because he was not going to see it exploited so poor people couldn’t afford it. And look what happened to HIM because he wouldn’t sell! (And by the way, just very recently Texas has decided not to take Dr. Burzynski’s license–great news finally on that front. If he hadn’t had that movie made that went all over the world though I’m sure that would never have happened and they would still be hounding him like they did Rife.)

    Black Salve is also supposed to cure skin cancers. I ordered some recently, and I was just floored by the ingredients! It has comfrey, chapparal, lobelia, goldenseal and myrrh in it (among other things). Now this stuff SHOULD be fantastic!

    So pot cures cancer; that just explains so much. Thanks very much for sharing this video! I’m going to share it with friends!

  28. Hopefully the feds will back down and leave us be. But, we can always listen to to some good music either way…

  29. In CA, the commercial infrastructure grows more mature by the hour. The number of THC-based products numbers in the tens of thousands, all made locally in CA. More states are considering it, and voters will likely follow, as polls show increasing support. Medical mj beat the pants off Obama in Arkansas so it’s hard to see any real partisan divide.

    The fed silence is rather stunning. One suspects they are not deciding how to crack down, but how to avoid getting sued equal-protection style. They will probably attempt to cobble something together like liquor control where everyone gets their cuts and personal restrictions come into play.

    But weed is not booze. You need no stills, no yeast, no bottles. All that is required is sunshine and rain. It requires zero processing from root to lip. So regulating it like booze will be akin to herding cats, it will soon be discovered.

    Add the billion dollar prison pyramid scheme, jury nullification that will likely follow, drug cartels from which Americans get 2/3rds of their pot, and this is going to get 27 different kinds of interesting.

    And what of “driving while impaired?” All I can say is: come drive in LA, and experience it for yourself. They wave and smile as they cut you off, so all’s good…

    To my conservative friends: want back in the game and quick? Call — nay, scream — for the end to the Drug War. Call Obama’s hand.

  30. Jeepers creepers, Jame’s prognosis is so exciting. 27 kinds. Who’s gonna keep score.
    Longing back to LA. Or Santa Barbara was also good for a change to LA.
    Just dreaming.
    Did I say we got a foot of snow?

  31. Criminalizing Marijuana use = jobs in the public sector + more prisoners.

    Criminalizing Marijuana use = enormous DISCRETION in the hands of police as to whom to jail and imprison and whom to economically disable.

    Criminalizing Marijuana use = easy way to practice hidden institutional racism and at the same time collect enormous amount of invisible, non-taxable bribes.

    And you think any American President (especially Obama) is going to give this up?

  32. Nice to see you, Whonoze.

    Great work on the picture. That is a mini-nosebleed if anything at all, and I agree with you that there’s a high probability of Fogen “getting good and bloody” for the camera. Still, it’s so minor as to be laughable. A guy who allegedly defended the victim of a three-thug pile-on, a guy who worked private parties as a bouncer, a guy who has been “datniggyTB” for all those years with his bellicose attitude and his guntotin’ swagger, getting all hot and bothered about a catsup-nose like that? I had worse when I had a bad cold for four days and the dry air caused cracks in my nasal passages; one tissue and a 30-second pinch with my head back and it’s over and I never killed anybody. The bigger question is how somebody held one hand over his mouth and another hand over his nose and didn’t get his DNA or blood on THEM from the transaction.


    These picture of injuries are not relevant. There is no law in Florida that says that you get a free murder if your victim tries to prevent it before the fact, and I’ll bet that there’s no law in Florida or any other state that says you get exonerated from any crime you want to commit so long as you’re injured in the process.

  33. Oops, forgive the above OT posting; it was meant to go elsewhere on the Internet and I got my tabs confussed. 😳

  34. If marijuana is a Schedule I substance, why does the Department of Health and Human Services hold a medical marijuana patent? Perhaps to just sit on it, and thereby prevent a particular medical use from being developed?


    And why does medicine have to come in the form of an expensive, bitter pill, anyway?

    This whole issue is surrounded by such nonsense. Cannabis is already the country’s third largest cash crop behind corn and soybeans. Hemp seed contains all essential amino acids and is an excellent source of protein, and hemp fiber is strong and easy to produce sustainably.

    And then there’s the whole duplicity of the CIA running drugs, and picking winners in our militarized gang war down in Mexico. From Barry Seal and Oliver North to states secrets in the case Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, almost everything about the government’s drug policy is at best absurd and at worst downright corrupt.

  35. Darren, do you have any idea how they will handle people growing their own, for their own use (no sale)? I mean, will they still have to pay taxes on that?

  36. feemeister,

    Not to put words in Darren’s mouth, but if they follow the alcohol model, there will be a set limit for personal production that is tax exempt. If you brew your own beer, you can make up to 100 gal. (20 x 5 gal. batches) for a single adult, or 200 gal. (40 x 5 gal. batches) for a household with two or more adults under Federal law, but each state may have additional regulation. Here’s a site that breaks down those laws state by state:


  37. Feemeister:

    I believe it will be illegal under WA law to grow marjuana for personal use, that is they if don’t posess a valid Marijuana Producers License under the initiative. WA does have a provision under the medical marijuana statute that currently exists to do so provided they posess a valid Medical Marijuana Card and they posess an amount that is less than that provided in the law. I don’t know how this is going to be affected by the change under I-502

    Pragmaticly people do as Gene says make beer and such under certain quantities more or less as a hobby, but people here do not produce their own tobacco for cigarrette or pipe smoking because it is so readily available everywhere. If Mary Jane is easy as buying a bottle of liquor I don’t think very many people will grow it themselves.

    Here is the text of the Marijuana Initiative.


    I have focused most of my reading only in certain areas of the law so you might want to take a look if there was something that I might have missed.

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