A man accused of trying to assassinate President Obama in 2011 was angry about the federal government’s policy on the criminalization of marijuana, according to new court documents.
Oscar Ortega-Hernandez has been accused of firing shots at the White House on Nov. 11, 2011. Neither Mr. Obama nor First Lady Michelle Obama were there at the time.
According to new documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Ortega-Hernandez purchased an AK-47 style rifle in Idaho for $550, as well as more than 1,200 rounds of ammunition in March 2011. Over the course of the next six months, prosecutors say, “Ortega-Hernandez practiced firing the assault rifle at a desolate crater located on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management outside of Idaho Falls, Idaho.”
The government also intends to introduce evidence “that the defendant smoked marijuana, admitted using marijuana, and expressed anger toward the government regarding the continued criminalization of marijuana.”
According to an arrest warrant, Mr. Ortega-Hernandez drove more than 2,000 from his Idaho Falls home to the District, where he fired up to eight shots at the White House. After he crashed his car several blocks away, he fled on foot and was tracked to a western Pennsylvania hotel by police.
Mr. Ortega-Hernandez had previously been quoted as calling Mr. Obama “the Anti-Christ.”
A CBS affiliate flagged a video made at Idaho State University in September 2011 in which Mr. Ortega-Hernandez says that “it’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for.”
“[T]he defendant claims that smoking marijuana makes people more intelligent and claims that the government refuses to decriminalize marijuana, ‘because, if we were all more intelligent as a whole, it would be harder to deceive us,’” according to the documents filed this week.
The evidence is not being offered to show his character, the filings say, but that “when the defendant fired his assault rifle at the White House on November 11, 2011, the defendant’s motive and intent was to punish and kill the President, who he believed was the head of a government that was oppressing its citizens in various ways, such as by continuing to criminalize the use of marijuana.”
Though a number of states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, the drug is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
Mr. Obama said in December it was time “to have a conversation” about the conflicting federal and state statutes, but National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said last month that “no state, no executive can nullify a statute that has been passed by Congress … let’s be clear: law enforcement officers take an oath of office to uphold federal law and they are going to continue to pursue drug traffickers and drug dealers.”
However, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) wrote a recent legal analysis saying that “although the federal government may use its power of the purse to encourage states to adopt certain criminal laws, the federal government is limited in its ability to directly influence state policy by the Tenth Amendment.”
Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado Democrat, said he hopes the Department of Justice will conduct a similar analysis.
“If they do, they are sure to reach the same conclusion: it is perfectly legal for states to regulate marijuana as they see fit,” he said.
Mr. Polis introduced a bill earlier this year that directs the attorney general to issue a final order that removes marijuana in any form from all schedules of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.