- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
Lawmaker says pot policy bolsters border drug war
Question of the Day
An Obama administration decision telling federal prosecutors not to target dispensers of medical marijuana in states that have legalized its use has helped finance a violent and expanding drug war along the U.S.-Mexico border, a senior House Republican charged this week.
“Given the violence raging at the border, violence which your administration’s [Drug Enforcement Administration] has said is fueled by marijuana, why is the department refusing to take legal, constitutional and responsible steps to enforce our nation’s drug laws?” Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in a letter Monday.
Mr. Smith said federal law still prohibits the possession, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, even though 14 states have enacted laws approving the sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“I previously wrote to you expressing my disapproval of the Justice Department’s 2009 guideline directing federal prosecutors not to bring charges against dispensaries operating in compliance with these state laws,” he said, adding that to do so was a “blatant disregard” of congressional mandates, Supreme Court rulings and the “constitutional requirement that the president faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
He said the DEA has said marijuana sales were significant to the success of the Mexican drug cartels and that they were the top revenue generator for the Mexican drug gangs — “a cash crop that finances corruption and the carnage of violence year after year.”
Medicinal marijuana laws also have caused enforcement problems in some states.
In New Mexico, Albuquerque police had a tip over the weekend about a backyard marijuana-growing operation but discovered the suspect was a patient under the state’s medical cannabis program.
Law enforcement agencies in states with privacy provisions in their medical marijuana laws worry that such situations drain their resources unnecessarily and could end up getting someone hurt. Boulder, Colo., police complained last year about their state’s grower-confidentiality provisions, saying officers spent considerable time investigating operations that turned out to have legal permission to have pot.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the department was reviewing the Smith letter. She said the department is committed to “vigorous enforcement” of the federal drug laws and would continue to focus its enforcement resources on illegal drug traffickers in all states, including those who use “marijuana dispensaries” as a front to conduct illegal drug trafficking.
“The department is focusing its enforcement and investigative activities involving marijuana on serious drug traffickers who violate both federal and state law,” she said, but she added that traffickers who try to hide behind “state ‘medical’ marijuana laws to mask their illegal activities will face federal prosecution.”
In October 2009, the Justice Department announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that permit medical marijuana. Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden said in the memo the department was committed to “making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources,” adding that U.S. attorneys have “plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters” within their districts.
“As a result, federal prosecutors are invested by statute and delegation from the attorney general with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority,” he said.
While cracking down on significant illegal drug trafficking remains a “core priority” for the Justice Department, “as a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” the Ogden memo said.
“How do you justify suing Arizona for allegedly pre-empting federal immigration law and yet not seek the same remedy against the states [that] have pre-empted federal drug laws?” he asked.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
- With bombs away, drug traffickers and illegal immigrants make their play
- Medical-device company exec admits to bilking shareholders of $400M
- Justice Dept: Florida's disabled children unnecessarily put in nursing facilities
- Man gets 11 years in Philadelphia mob crackdown
- Eric Holder asks for respect from protesters of George Zimmerman verdict
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow