Marijuana Legalization Supporters Fire Back at Attorney General Holder

CANNABIS CULTURE – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared war on marijuana legalization in California on Friday by promising to “vigorously enforce” Federal drug laws if Proposition 19 passes. Now, supporters of drug law reform are firing back.

In a letter to former Drug Czars (who had earlier advised Obama to sue if Proposition 19 passes), the Attorney General said,”the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens. […] We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

Marijuana policy reform groups say the Feds are talking tough, but lack resources and the political will to go to war with California’s 3.3 million recreational cannabis consumers.

They say it is no surprise the Obama Administration is continuing its prohibition policies, and point to similar comments made during the lead-up of to the successful vote on Prop 215 in 1996, which legalized medical marijuana in California even though it is STILL against Federal law. The Federal government fought the medical program for years, but could do nothing to overturn State laws. Finally, on March 18, 2009, Holder announced that Obama would force the DEA to stand down, and leave med-pot patients alone if they are within state laws.

The Former DEA officials and media began immediately hyping the announcement and brought out rootin’-tootin’ LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, who claims his deputies would enforce marijuana laws even if Prop 19 passes (see video).

Here are a few responses from the cannabis community:

Attorney General Holder is Wrong to Oppose California’s Marijuana Initiative

by The Marijuana Policy Project

According to the Associated Press, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter earlier this week to former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration in which he promised that the Justice Department would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws in California even if the state’s voters approve Proposition 19, which would make marijuana legal for all adults 21 and older and allow localities to tax and regulate marijuana’s sale.

In response, Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, offered the following statement: “The truth is that the use of marijuana — a substance far less harmful than alcohol or tobacco — is widespread in this country and nothing the government can do will ever stop that. The only question is how we structure the market for marijuana so that it is best for society. Will we have marijuana sold in licensed, tax-paying and regulated stores or will we continue to have it sold in a completely unregulated market that makes it more available to teens? Will we impose standards so that purchasers know the quality and purity of the marijuana they are buying or will we keep it in a far less safe unregulated market? Will we have the profits from the sale of marijuana go to legitimate taxpaying American business owners or will they go to underground dealers and cartels who will pay no taxes and defend their interests through violence?

“Attorney General Holder is not looking out for the health and safety of the American people. He is nothing more than the lead advocate for a never-ending taxpayer-funded jobs program for law enforcement officials in this country. If you look at the opposition to marijuana policy reform in this country, it is driven almost entirely by people whose jobs are dependent on arresting and prosecuting individuals for marijuana-related offenses. The only other prominent group is elected officials who ignorantly turn a blind eye to alcohol-fueled violence in our communities in order to pretend they are ‘tough on crime’ by going after marijuana users who simply want to enjoy a substance less harmful than alcohol in peace.

“If Attorney General Holder and the former heads of the DEA truly and sincerely cared about keeping our society safe from more dangerous drugs like cocaine, they would break the link between marijuana and harder drugs. Keeping marijuana in the illegal market does not reduce the use of harder drugs; it increases it by forcing teens and adults to purchase marijuana in the same ‘stores’ that sell those other drugs. This cannot be stated strongly enough: Supporters of marijuana prohibition in law enforcement, who know that alcohol use causes far more problems than marijuana use, are not motivated by concerns for public safety. They are motivated by a dangerous combination of arrogance, prejudice and self-interest. Law enforcement has lost all credibility on the subject of marijuana prohibition and it is time the American people start thinking for themselves on this issue.

“States are the laboratories of our democracy. California voters have an opportunity this November to choose an alternative to the failed policies of marijuana prohibition. Sadly, Attorney General Holder is trying to deny them that chance before the election even takes place.”

– Article from Marijuana Policy Project.

Obama administration may back marijuana prohibition, but that doesn’t mean that California voters have to do the same

by Paul Armentano, The Hill

The mainstream media was in a frenzy last week over statement’s issued by the Justice Department alleging that the office will “vigorously enforce” federal anti-marijuana laws in California, regardless of whether voters enact Proposition 19 this November. Prop. 19, which will appear as a statewide ballot measure this November 2, seeks to legalize the adult possession of limited quantities of marijuana in private, and allow local governments to regulate its commercial production.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., in a letter Wednesday to nine former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, declared, “Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. …We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”

To which I’d respond: So what? Of course the Obama administration is wedded to America’s failed prohibition policies. After all, it is their policy.

And of course the voters of California cannot change the federal Controlled Substances Act via a statewide vote. Nobody ever claimed that they could.

However, here’s what is noteworthy. Despite the claims from Prop. 19 opponents that the measure would be ‘preempted’ by the federal government, at no time has the administration challenge the fact that Californians have the legal right to determine their own marijuana policies. Rather, the federal government has simply reinforced that they remain of the opinion that pot ought to be criminally outlawed — a position that is clearly out-of-step with the American public’s sentiment.

Furthermore, Californians have been here before and not just in 1996, when a majority of voters decided in favor of legalizing the statewide medical use of marijuana. Seventy-eight years ago this November, Californians overwhelmingly voted for the repeal of a morally, socially, and economically failed public policy – alcohol prohibition. Voters did not wait for the federal government to act; they took the matter into their own hands. And they will likely do so again this November.

Finally, it goes without saying that the federal justice department — verbal bluster aside — lacks both the resources and the political will to take on the role of targeting and prosecuting the estimated 3.3 million Californians who are presently consuming cannabis for non-medical purposes. These duties are relegated to state, not federal, law enforcement officials. Just as medical marijuana has existed as a legal market in California, in obvious violation of federal Controlled Substances Act, Prop. 19 will too remain the law of the land post-November 2.

Which ultimately begs the question, If a government’s legitimate use of state power is based on the consent of the governed, then at what point does marijuana prohibition — in particular the federal enforcement of prohibition — become illegitimate public policy? Perhaps it is time to ask President Obama and United States Attorney General Eric Holder?

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

– Article from The Hill.

Attorney General’s Opposition to California’s Marijuana Initiative, Prop. 19, is Political Posturing

In a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department will prosecute distribution and possession of marijuana in California even if the state’s voters approve Proposition 19. He says the department remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states.

Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance offered this statement:

The Attorney General’s posturing notwithstanding, this is 1996 all over again. Naysayers said then that the passage of Proposition 215, California’s medical marijuana law, would be a symbolic gesture at most because the federal government would continue to criminalize all marijuana use. Today more than 80 million Americans live in 14 states and the District of Columbia that have functioning medical marijuana laws. All that happened without a single change in federal law.

Under our system of government, states get to decide state law. There is nothing in the United States Constitution that requires that the State of California criminalize anything under state law. If California decides to legalize marijuana through the passage of Proposition 19, nothing in the Constitution stands in the way. In fact, Congress has explicitly left to the states wide discretion to legislate independently in the area of drug control and policy. States do not need to march in lockstep with the federal government or even agree with federal law.

The reality is that the federal government has neither the resources nor the political will to undertake sole — or even primary — enforcement responsibility for low level marijuana offenses in California. Well over 95% of all marijuana arrests in this country are made by state and local law enforcement. The federal government may criminalize marijuana, but it can’t force states to do so, and it can’t require states to enforce federal law.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago: “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

States were intended by the Framers to serve as laboratories, and are free to enact new and innovative marijuana laws, and to explore whether there is a better way. Proposition 19 is exactly that.

– Article from the Drug Policy Alliance.



  1. Anonymous on

    Hello fellow Citizens:

    The problem is with the Federal government and the federal law that prohibits the use of cannabis which is a herb. As we all know, those of us who have become educated on the matter, that the ferderal law prohibiting the use of cannabis is a complete lie. I think what needs to be done is to sue the federal government let them, those in the federal government, prove with supporting evidence that the law is just and rational.

    The American people are being forced to obey a law that is completely based on lies. This is unconstitutional. Our own constitution gives us, the people, the right to disobey any law that is unjust. This federal law is unjust.

    As it stands the federal law that prohibits the use of cannabis, a herb, is unconstitutional and needs to be abolished.

    This is the only way for complete freedom.


    Concern Citizen

  2. Anonymous on

    If the feds choose to ignore the will of the voters after the passage of 19 the people should band together, arrest these officers for tyranny.and hold them in a cal prison.i mean really ,how long would it take about fifty thousand angry citizens to stop the feds ? and if the feds do take action there will be millions of angry citizens all across this nation who will get involved this isn’t just about cali ,this is about the entire world whether you know it or not.

  3. Anonymous on

    How long has it been people have asked for the reclassification of cannabis
    Despite Obama in the picture,marijuana is still considered badly.People ought to read on the origins of the marihuana tax act : the biggest injustice done to a plant because of racial considerations.This will never be erased and proposition 19 or not,there will always be people who will believe this reefer madness and who will call those who smokes the herb pothead.The DEA as it stands in 2010 is the direct proof of a drug policy gone berzerk in the 30’s.Outdated laws from another era still percolating in the XXI st century and inspiring the likes of Anslinger,Eric Holder.

  4. Anonymous on

    You would think that the Feds might have learned a lesson or two from their failed attempt at alcohol prohibition during the 1920’s. It was a failure then, and it’s a failure now. The real problem as I see it, is that too many people view this as a morality issue. Whatever happened to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happyness”. Just because you don’t agree with things that others do does not make that person immoral or what they do evil. It only makes them different. JUST SAY NO TO THE MORALITY POLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. undrgrndgirl on

    not in the age of the “citizens united” supreme court…

  6. undrgrndgirl on

    the way you think! california should secede on so many levels…

  7. Lygeia on

    If you ran a for-profit jail, who would you rather incarcerate so that they can make office furniture for you for 5 cents an hour? A dangerous serial killer who can kill the guards with his bare hands, or a peaceful pot smoker who will exhibit no withdrawal symptoms in prison, make the furniture to the exact specifications, and will read quietly in his cell in his spare time?

    Even though Proposition 19 is not perfect, we can no longer accept a jail sentence for marijuana use. The-powers-that-be need to realize this. They don’t understand the powerful forces that they are playing with by keeping marijuana and hemp illegal.

  8. Anonymous on

    This is the first step to reclaiming control of our country, as prohibition dies so will the feds ability to poke its nose under our tents. When the rest of the country ends prohibition so the rest of the world will follow…so ending our federal EMPIRES ability to stick its nose under the tent of other nations , there by ending the bully action it forces upon others.

    This is about freedom, this is about the end of their reign of terror over the world.

    Think about it. If ‘We the people’ find the power to end this law, one so engrain in society , what other BS laws can we change? How much control can we regain over OUR congress?

    Power to the people ! Vote yes for freedom…vote yes on prop 19 or remain slaves of the state. The choice is clear…

  9. Anonymous on

    I hope the Prop passes and the feds do launch a lawsuit. After they lose the suit Cannabis prohibition will quickly fall apart nationwide. How could they win? They only claim authority over pharmaceuticals based on the “Commerce Clause” of the Constitution. That clause clearly only applies to interstate commerce. If Cannabis is produced, sold and used all in the same state then what authority does Congress have to interfere? No such power was ever granted to them by the Constitution. A lawsuit would backfire on them after they actually have to explain what they are doing and by what authority.

  10. Samson on

    And, further more; I can’t understand why they (the Gov’t) have a problem with a plant that is useful in regards to Job-creation, nutritional value, medicinal properties, environmentally friendly…when used for industry, and safer recreationally than alcohol…and THAT is just for starters.!

  11. Anonymous on

    I am sick of this.

    Why is there a fight for this fight ?!?

    Why can’t we let those that suffer benefit ?

    This whole argument makes me ill beyond the IBS and FM that I already have.


    Fuck all of you that don’t don’t care …

  12. MOTFA on

    Keep fighting your loosing battle feds. Just like you always do. Spend more and and more money and see where that gets you at the polls.

    I am guessing unemployed.

  13. Anonymous on

    Look at the situation between the feds and tobacco

    On page 5 of the linked booklet it says things like “tobacco regulation is a mix of state and federal authority”, “federal authority is weak and fragmented” and “courts struck down Clinton administration FDA regulation of tobacco”. Considering that tobacco is highly toxic and known to cause numerous deaths, how is it that the feds have very little say on how tobacco is produced and marketed but claim to have the authority to completely ban Cannabis, a non-toxic tobacco alternative? Just based on the psychoactive effects alone tobacco is far worse. If a non-smoker takes just one huff off a tobacco spliff he will feel immediate and strong effects, far stronger than they would from one toke. Imagine if you were to get behind the wheel right after taking a tobacco hit. Dizziness is not conducive to safe driving. I don’t get how tobacco is so lightly regulated by the feds while Cannabis is outright banned under penalty of federal Gulag. You can barely even feel a whole joint after you’ve been smoking daily for a few weeks. How did they convince anybody that it was a “drug” so dangerous that only a total ban, without the required Constitutional Amendment, would suffice to protect the citizenry? Those regulations were clearly written by people who have never used Cannabis in their lives and have very vivid imaginations. It’s actually laughable that any government agency would put Cannabis in the same category as opiates and cocaine. I would say it’s more in the category of Kava Kava or Valerian root, a general relaxant. If it were physically addictive, like Valium, then it might require regulation. Since the worst withdrawal symptom is a night of not being able to fall asleep easily, I’d say the current regulation scheme is a little excessive. What are they protecting us from, relaxation? When did that become a bad thing?

  14. Anonymous on


  15. adrian on

    The bigger point people seem to be missing with the Holder statement, is that the Federal government does not have jurisdiction to enforce such a stance. States rights are preeminent to any Federal position unless it endangers the freedom of the country(which it obviously does not). This is where it becomes the duty of the state and city governments to ensure the rights of their citizens and interpose themselves between the federal agents and the California citizens these agents seek to oppress. This is why we need our national guard and state militia’s available for the defense of our state, not oversees.

    I’m against proposition 19. But if the Federal government thinks they can bully our state around, I may vote for it just to spite them. Yes, I’ll actually consider supporting an initiative for more taxation, just to nullify an illegal federal mandate. It’s time the feds remembered who runs the show in this country, the United States citizen!

  16. Anonymous on

    Why would the Harper government oppose the personal use of marijuana to ease the physical pains and stresses of every day life, but have no objection to my doc giving me a prescription for a heroin product? Something is very wrong with our Governments?

  17. Anonymous on

    It has been obvious that the main reasoning behind the prohibition of weed is so the law enforcers may harass the free thinking weed smoker not merely because it is so much safer for them to pursue them than it is to pursue the criminals that are a more physical threat to society but, because the weed smoker is a free thinking individual that does not necessarily go along with what the politicians want them to think or believe. Remember prohibition never worked against alcohol either but, once re-legalized the alcohol industry created many more jobs for the working individual. We the people can and do make our own decisions everyday of our lives. What we do not appreciate is when our government demands to have the final say on what, when and how we carry on with our personal lives. What we have here is the deterioration of the free will that is said to have been given to us all by God. (It is said in the christian bible, Google it)
    Granted legalization and regulation will not eliminate the drug cartels but, it will do far more damage to them than what is being done through the current system of laws.