DEA heads transparent, lacking substance

When the recent story came out that nine previous heads of the Drug Enforcement Agency had sent a letter to the Attorney General suggesting that the federal government should sue California if Prop 19 passes, there was one really big thing missing… Sue based on what?

Various media reported about the letter (which you can now read here), but none of them indicated what the legal grounds of the suit would be and whether there was any, you know, validity to those grounds.

Anybody can suggest suing somebody. For example, the person in front of you at the grocery store buys the last bratwurst, and without brats your cookout is ruined. I could suggest that you sue them. I could even get eight friends together and write a letter suggesting that you sue them signed by all nine of us. And you still wouldn’t have any legal justification to sue.

Of course, as you can well guess, there’s really nothing there.

Just Say Now has brought out the big guns to put this nonsense away.

Bruce Fein, member of the Just Say Now advisory committee who served in the Justice Department as Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, responds:

Nothing in the Constitution requires a state to prohibit as a matter of state law and prosecution what the federal government has chosen to prohibit as a matter of federal law and prosecution. Proposition 19 leaves the power of the federal government to enforce federal prohibitions on marijuana trafficking or use unimpaired. It would be flagrantly unconstitutional for Congress to attempt to force states to enact laws prohibiting under state law conduct that Congress has prohibited under federal law! DEA needs remedial education on the Constitution.

Eric Sterling adds his analysis as well

…they are wrong on the key question regarding the merits of the lawsuit they desire the Attorney General to file. Proposition 19 withdraws California enforcement of its marijuana law which is its Constitutional prerogative. The Supreme Court ruled in the Printz case that Congress cannot “commandeer” state officials to enforcement federal laws. This is different from the Arizona immigration situation in which Arizona sought to authorize state conduct based on federal immigration status, and to create offenses based on federal immigration status. Immigration is explicitly a Federal power in Article I, section 8 of the Constitution. Marijuana prohibition is not in the Constitution. Federal power over marijuana is based on the commerce clause. Our law is filled with areas in which there is both federal and state regulation of various aspects of commerce. The Controlled Substances Act, unlike the Federal Communications Act, does not exclude states from regulation.

On its face, Prop. 19 is a completely different concept. Historically, Prop. 19 is akin to the act of the New York legislature repealing its alcohol prohibition law in 1923 which was perfectly lawful and Constitutional.

So the answer is, no, the DEA heads have nothing there.

But Eric also hits on another interesting point.

… this letter is the clearest indication that the drug prohibition establishment recognizes the political attractiveness and unique importance of Prop. 19. I cannot recall any previous collaboration of former DEA Administrators of this kind. If our national marijuana prohibition policy were not so clearly failing and not so close to being replaced with real controls, they would never have mobilized in this way to defend it. If Prop. 19 were not proposing a system of control that is so logical and straight forward that it is widely politically attractive, they would not be mobilizing this kind of collaboration.

I’ve noticed this, too.

There is real fear out there on the part of the prohibitionists. They see Prop 19 as the thread that could start to unravel the entire prohibition regime. If Prop 19 passes and the world doesn’t end/sky doesn’t fall/streets don’t erupt with violence/population doesn’t suddenly become mindless zombies, then why will the public support their prohibition gravy train?

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37 Responses to DEA heads transparent, lacking substance

  1. darkcycle says:

    Like I said, there’s mortal fear behind that letter. If you are a TRUE believer, and you’ve made prohibition your life’s work, then prop 19 has got to look like the end of the world. Certainly it’s the end of your holy mission, and the death of your entire legacy. To which I say good. Ignomity, shame and the trash heap of history. Those are my hopes for John Walters and his ilk. And I really hate ilk. YAAAAYY Prop 19!

  2. Jillian Galloway says:

    The DEA bent over backwards to make hemp cereal illegal and only stopped when a federal panel told them to cut it out (HIA vs. DEA). They were WRONG about the “dangers” in hemp cereal and they’re WRONG about the “dangers” in marijuana!

    800,000 people are arrested every year because of this prohibition they’re trying so hard to protect, and what do we taxpayers get back in return for all the pain and loss of opportunity these arrests cause? At $40 BILLION a year, do we get *anything* good back from the prohibition at all??

    $113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S., and because of the federal prohibition *every* dollar of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. Far from preventing people from using marijuana, the prohibition instead creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand. We are all responsible for the consequences of this policy!

    According to the ONDCP, at least sixty percent of Mexican drug cartel money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., they protect this revenue by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering countless innocent people.

    If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so NOW, but if we can’t then we must legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match. One way or the other, we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate their highly lucrative marijuana incomes – no business can withstand the loss of sixty percent of its revenue!

    To date, the cartels have amassed more than 100,000 “foot soldiers” and operate in 230 U.S. cities, and it’s now believed that the cartels are “morphing into, or making common cause with, what would be considered an insurgency” (Secretary of State Clinton, 09/09/2010). The longer the cartels are allowed to exploit the prohibition the more powerful they’ll get and the more our own personal security will be put in jeopardy.

  3. Renegade says:

    Cocaine has been found in some Egyptians mommies, used to consume double the quantity than a person does today. Was there a police attacking illegal substances back on those times? NO! I believe ancient societies would never fund a police force against illegal substances, because they found it worthless. they thought they could make better use of the money to tackle another issues.
    I believe all the billions of dollars wasted could have been used to reinforce our Defenses and tackle serious problems we are facing today. We would have better education system, and would be in a better economic position.
    The prohibition like Clinton says, just empowers narco-terrorists groups who wish the end of United States. We just have to look at Mexico, which also is facing international criminal groups who want a piece of the door into United States.
    10 billion dollars annually end up on the hands of criminals. thousands of innocent lives are lost. Thanks to Harry Anslinger, we are facing a brutal reality today. He created a big problem where narco terrorists benefit. Way to go mister Anslinger.

  4. BruceM says:

    They would “sue” by bringing a declaratory judgment in federal court based on the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Hard to say if they’d win or not, the best defense might be flipping their usual argument on its head and say “the Constitution doesn’t apply to drugs.”

    Basically, their argument would be if the federal government is “supreme” as intended by the framers of the Constutition, then states should not be allowed to do something (is not having a law “doing something”? I think not) that interferes with a clear and important federal interest. Imagine the governor of california flying to North Korea to engage in treaty talks with Kim Jong Il (on behalf of California, not on behalf of America). Surely that would not be tolerated. They will equate merely NOT criminalizing small amounts of marijuana for certain people to be so contrary to a stated federal interest that it cannot be allowed under principles of federal supremacy.

    But there can never be an affirmative duty imposed by the federal gov’t on the states to pass legislation. Pot is and will always remain illegal under the federal laws regardless, so the legalization is just illusory anyway.

  5. Just me. says:

    California will be that first 10% of the ice berg to melt.

    Yes indeed their whole cabal will unravel.

  6. kaptinemo says:

    “Hail, Mary” plays. Whistling past graveyards. Drug Czars threatening to sue whole States.

    Signs of desperation.

    This is like some mass-murderer threatening others not to approach or he’ll kill himself…and everyone takes a step forward, because everyone hates the b@st@rd.

    Jeez, they really, truly are stupid. I guess that’s what you get when you hire from the shallow end of the gene pool…

  7. Dante says:

    Why can’t America just say it?

    You know what I mean. The prohibitionists have had things their way for 40 years (or is it 70?), and look at the situation – street violence, over-filled prisons, new types of more potent drugs, cartels so powerful they can topple governments, dead dogs, etc.

    The situation is a mess. The prohibitionists caused it. Now they are telling us that we should continue their failed War on Drugs.


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  9. claygooding says:

    First they mock you,then the fear you. Damn,it feels good to be on top after all these years.

  10. Duncan20903 says:

    Renegade, wow, them drug smugglers are some clever people. Got that cocaine and nicotine out of the Americas over to Egypt thousands of years before anyone in the civilized world was aware that the Americas existed. My first thought when I read your post was ‘bullshit’, and it seems to have been the universal reaction of scholars when presented the same facts initially. But it seems that it is true. It’s a shame that the ancients didn’t keep good written records.

    “DR SVETLA BALABANOVA – Institute of Forensic Medicine, Ulm:
    “I got a pile of letters that were almost threatening, insulting letters saying it was nonsense, that I was fantasising, that it was impossible, because it was proven that before Columbus these plants were not found anywhere in the world outside of the Americas.”

    Wow, all I can say is, wow. I also had never known before this that people ate mummies as a medicinal agent, and there weren’t enough mummies to keep up with demand. I must say that TV programming sure keeps people out of mischief. Would anyone have ever thought to grind up mummies and eat them if they had an episode of CSI:Miami to distract them?

    Hey, that reminds me, the season premiere for the new incarnation of Hawaii 5-0 will air on 9/20. I’m still wondering if they’ll work medical cannabis into one of the episodes. Hawaii does have a significant medical cannabis trade and lots of media controversy generated by the prohibitionists.

  11. Maria says:

    Still, even now, the only times the crime shows on TV feature cannabis it’s related to bad bad evil people or they don’t mention it. Less mention of cannabis instead of portraying it positivly or.. normally.

    Though, there was that one CSI:Sometown episode with the medical cannabis club and a suicide pact … and a Merilyn Monroe look alike and hibernation… Er… maybe it’s best when they don’t mention medical cannabis.

  12. Nz says:

    The prohibition like Clinton says, just empowers narco-terrorists groups who wish the end of United States. We just have to look at Mexico, which also is facing international criminal groups who want a piece of the door into United States.

    And the U.S. Government is pushing the situation in Mexico as a good excuse to launch a military invasion of Central America, something they’ve been planning on for quite some time (see PNAC). Where, I wonder, do the drug cartels get all their big guns? If we could get a positive trace on the serial numbers, most would lead right back to the U.S. military. Now ain’t that a coincidence!

  13. darkcycle says:

    Bruce, the supremacy clause isn’t likely to be the basis of a successful suit. The federal prohibition will still stand, and yes California Judges will be required to uphold this prohibition. But there’s nothing in the supremacy clause that requires California to ENFORCE federal law. Only if Cali tried to overturn the FEDERAL prohibition would the Supremacy Clause come into play. I’m not sure about this, but if I understand it right….

  14. claygooding says: in all wars their are war crimes,and nine of the fixin to be exposed war criminals are skairt.
    Over one half of Kerli’s budget is fixin to close down on him and he better learn some damage control pretty quick and start building up his non-marijuana enforcement assets
    and programs if he wants to retain any budget.
    After the DEA lose control of marijuana studies it will only be a matter of time before it is back in our medicine cabinets,where it should never have been removed.

  15. Servetus says:

    If the DEA Nine view the immigration struggles in Arizona as a precedent, or even a suitable analogy for justifying a federal lawsuit against a Prop 19 victory, then these are nine people who are incapable of putting two thoughts together.

    The federal lawsuits against Arizona’s zoned out Governor Jan Brewer, and the authoritarian Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, targets an Arizona statute designed to impose police state tactics against people who happen to find themselves in Arizona. Arizona’s re-introduction of “Your papers please!” essentially demands that citizens carry documentation to prove themselves worthy of freedom to a xenophobic and potentially malevolent investigator.

    A federal lawsuit against a Prop 19 victory would attempt to preserve current police state tactics as they are practiced against peaceful and productive California citizens who enjoy inhaling cannabis now and then. Prop 19 removes California law enforcement’s involvement in personal possession cases of less than one ounce of weed, making Prop 19 the precise opposite in intent of what’s transpiring in Arizona.

    The idea that the federal government, as represented here by the DEA Nine, would preclude citizens of California and the United States from using their elective process to thwart institutionalized tyranny is simply mind boggling.

  16. Duncan20903 says:

    Maria, actually “Law & Order” gave the Lt. Van Buren cancer last season, and shows her being encouraged by her loved ones to try cannabis as a palliative for the chemotherapy, and that it worked well. She also got caught by the Chief of Detectives who called her on the carpet and told her in no uncertain terms that he knew she was using cannabis and that she had to shower and change her clothes before coming to work because it was unacceptable for people to know that she was using cannabis. Then he gave her the phone number of the guy he had gotten his medical cannabis from when he was suffering chemo due to testicular cancer. There is no way that this plot line could have been more favorable to medical cannabis.

    It was CSI:NY that featured the cannabis compassion club. I’d rate that as totally neutral to perhaps just a bit positive. It was precious the way the CSI’s were able to determine that cannabis was involved by chemical analysis of the person’s fingerprint. But CSI:NY isn’t particular to presenting facts on their show. They had one where they presented as fact the urban legend of where the phrase ‘saved by the bell’ originated. I had never heard that one so I Googled it because it sounded totally ludicrous, which in fact it was. But it was still presented as if factual by the script writers. If you haven’t heard that one just Google “saved by the bell”+grave or search I honestly think that Gary Sinise is a big fan of Jack Webb’s portrayal of Sgt Joe Friday. Mac is almost as two dimensional as Joe.

    Not a crime show, but “House MD” had an episode where House walked into Dr. Wilson’s office and is surprised to catch him rolling a joint. Dr. Wilson explains that it’s for one of his patients. Dr Wilson is an oncologist on the show. It had nothing to do with the show’s plot either, it was just a cameo appearance for medical cannabis.

    On another episode of House we see a pot grower who managed to get himself sick and ended up dying because he was a cheapskate in his grow op. He also gave the mystery disease to Dr. Foreman so they had to go back to the grow room to figure out what the heck was causing the illness. 3 days after the grower died this grow room was still full of beautiful cannabis plants blissfully unaware that their grower was dead. It turned out that pigeons were shitting in the water he used to keep the plants transpiring. Dr. House made this pithy comment “Fungus enters the brain through the spanyol sinus, where it dances its tripe thread of happiness, blindness and intractable pain. Let’s hope this experience teaches our cop a lesson. Don’t cut corners when you’re growing your pot. See you back home.” Oh yeah I had forgotten the pot grower was a sworn peace officer.

    Dr. House also dropped acid to cure a migraine that he had given himself on purpose without any negative consequences. No explanation was presented about where a Doctor in New Jersey would be able to find LSD on demand. It’s a really good possibility that House MD jumped the shark last year. The show just isn’t the same since he quit getting high. Is it me or do others find it peculiar that a fictional character could be less interesting after quitting the use of fictional drugs?

  17. Capo says:

    From CNN today:

    it is a fairly balanced article I think, although it still gives a little too much weight to law enforcement.

    I wanted to bring attention to the interviews about 2/3 of the way in. Kristi, a grandmother who grows marijuana and sells it to the dispensaries says she will vote no on prop 19 because it will hurt her financially. I think this is shameful on many levels, which have been discussed in detail on this site.

    My point is that as we get closer to the election, I think supporters of Prop 19 need to specifically address this attitude, and remind people that marijuana isn’t just “a little illegal,” and that this particular stance will cause great harm to otherwise law abiding citizens.

    Also, from a market perspective, I think volume of sales alone will far outweigh any potential for lost revenue from dropping prices. Falling prices creates a market. A legal status creates a bigger market. Growers won’t be out of business, they will be out of stock!

  18. Duncan20903 says:

    Bruce, Prop 215 and Prop 19 are identical to the Feds. The SCOTUS has had the opportunity of striking down Prop 215 3 times and they declined the opportunity 3 times.

    The illusory effect of legalizing cannabis at the State level isn’t really an illusion. Approaching 100% of cannabis busts are made by State and local police. But there’s absolutely no way that all the sovereigns can be coordinated to tossing out their cannabis laws simultaneously. If we say there’s no use in changing State law without changing Federal law it would be logical to say that it’s no use in changing Federal law as long as there’s State laws against it producing a need for simultaneous repeal. Nope, sorry I can’t get my arms around that line of thinking.

    Did you know that Virginia law recognized and makes legal medical cannabis? Virginia was the 1st State to pass a medical cannabis law. This was right after Bob Randall won his suit against the Feds which is what led to the Compassionate IND program. If you didn’t know about Virginia’s medical cannabis law it is likely because the law only applies to cannabis prescriptions written by a doctor and obtained by patients at a licensed pharmacy. But the very day that the Feds acknowledge that cannabis is medicine Virginia’s law will have medical cannabis legal in the Commonwealth.

  19. darkcycle says:

    Huh? You watch tv?

  20. Nz says:

    The problem with so-called “legal” medical marijuana is doctors still fear the feds who scrutinize every prescription they write for it. The only people who can legally receive mmj prescriptions, so far as the feds are concerned, are the extreme cases, where people have life-threatening diseases such as AIDS and cancer. The feds do not recognize all the other wonderful medical uses that cannabis has, such as treatment for anxiety disorders and simple pain. The only other people who can get mmj prescriptions anywhere but a state like California are very wealthy people who pay their doctors well to cover the extra security against a federal lawsuit.

    My 2 cents, now ignore it you super-smart snobs!

  21. Maria says:

    @Duncant20903 After reading your synopsis I realized that I’ve seen that House episode. The one where Wilson calmly keeps rolling a joint. I guess it was such a normal thing for me that I didn’t even register it as unusual or even memorable! It was just part of life. Most definitely it was a great scene. *laugh* I haven’t seen the recent episodes. None since he went through rehab. I don’t have a TV atm – not bragging about it as it’s not a deliberate choice just current living circumstances make it so.

    I’m glad to hear that there’s more mainstream TV producers and writers out there doing their part in normalizing use. One day, smoking a joint will be portrayed as casually as drinking a beer or having a coffee. That is, if we can keep them in check. Them being those who want to keep all of society functioning on the level of elementary school children.

  22. Windy says:

    darkcycle and Bruce, the supremacy clause comes before the 10th Amendment, amendments AMEND the original document. Legally this means the States are supreme on any issue not directly addressed by the Constitution. Prohibition of any substance is not addressed in the Constitution. Therefore, the federal government has no legitimate Constitutional authority to prohibit anything not prohibited by the Constitution. The Constitution allocates the powers of the various governments, the federal government was not given the power to determine what the People may or may not ingest, period. I’m not even certain the States were given that power, I think not. So, any State has the power to nullify any federal law the people of that State feel is unconstitutional by legislating (or by referendum/initiative) that the federal law is not valid and will not be enforced within the borders of the State.

  23. darkcycle says:

    Uh…yeah…that too.

  24. darkcycle says:

    Wait a minute, didn’t the creative reinterpretation of the commerce clause in the ’70’s skirt around that sticky issue? If not how is it that the federal government ever had the power to prohibit a substane? I though the whole Prop 215/ Prop 19 issue was different. Or I could be wrong, since I’m out of my depth with the fine print on the back of a parking ticket.

  25. darkcycle says:

    P.S. Lost my bet with myself, so I just dropped $20 more on the ‘yes prop 19’ folks.

  26. darkcycle says:

    NZ, according to the feds, the only people who can legally have MMJ ‘scripts are the people in the IND program. All four of them.

  27. Ron Combs says:

    The government does’nt even consider popular opinion when they make a decision. It has no bearing whatsoever.Their only concern is the top 2% and their money.And Obama can make his Supreme Court Puppets do anything he wants.Don’t start counting chickens yet.

  28. Just me. says:

    Thanks to Harry Anslinger, we are facing a brutal reality today. He created a big problem where narco terrorists benefit. Way to go mister Anslinger.

    Anslinger had help. One Idea and greed.The ‘corporations” back then picked up on the idea to suit thier own greed , its still happening today. The people are being preyed upon by those supporting prohibtion…..government and cartel alike.

    The only difference between the two ? One does thier buisness out in the open the other dont.

  29. garrettt says:

    I don’t get how some pathetic rogue bureaucratic tax- leeching agency like the DEA can override the will of the American people. That is an insult to the average American voter. Ohhh, “I’m sorry Mr. Voter. If Prop 19 passes, we are going to get the federal government to sue. We know better than you…. ” Pffft…

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  31. paul says:

    First, the constitution makes all powers not expressly granted to the federal government the province of the states.

    They get around this via the commerce clause, which regulates interstate trade, and a series of appalling supreme court decisions that basically said everything is interstate trade, even if it happens only in your back yard. This is why congress can regulate MJ, or make you buy medical insurance, or force you to paint your house green, or whatever strikes their fancy. That MJ plant growing in your back yard affects interstate trade somehow, so they can regulate it.

    Regardless of this power, however, a state doesn’t have to make something illegal if it doesn’t want to. This doesn’t change federal law, and it also does not conflict with federal law. For example, federal law may outlaw a specific kind of gun, but your state may not care, so if you get caught with the gun you’ll be charged under the federal law in federal court.

    It is silly things like the commerce clause nonsense which made me realize that the law is pretty much whatever the guys in charge say it is, and what they they people will go along with or they can get away with. In the case of prop 19, I think we’ll see a wide variety of reactions amongst the various law enforcement outlets.

    There will be cries of defiance from some police departments who will swear they’ll arrest people anyway, or promise to harass pot smokers in other ways. There will be some police departments who will just drop it. Some cities will embrace the law, others will come up with creative laws and zoning regulations to try and chase pot out of their town.

    The feds will continue to raid MJ farms and medical MJ dispensaries in a spotty kind of way, but eventually lay off. Other states will follow CA, and the various state and local bureaucracies will accept the new situation and develop their own rules and standards to deal with it. Once this happens, we will have won.

    There will be many years of adjustment to the law, some loosening and tightening, plenty of political arguments. I don’t think the rest of the drugs are going to be legalized so easily, but they may go down eventually, too.

    Clearly, the other drugs are a fight for another year.

  32. Countertop says:

    Interesting, that this is pretty much what happened with gun control. Every time some measure was thrown out, we heard cries of blood in the street. Didn’t take to long, once nothing happened, that the people figured out the leaders were full of crap. Looking forward to te same thing happening here – and another of my long held libertarian goals being achieved.

    Pretty soon, we might just get some real freedom back.

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  34. bobby says:

    well finally the DEA is stepping into stop dumbass’s from fucking up califorina.they defientlly should sue.what are califorinans thinking trying to pass that stupid shit. YOU relise crime and marijuana use is going to skyrocket. drug cartels will just open up shops in america thanks morons u really fixed the problem. sorry but probition has worked and still works and will always work. the volenice in mexico means we are winning .and please think of people who would be effected by this if you legalize pot. alot of good peace officers will lose their jobs.not to menton the prison system will crummble cause theres no cops out there to arrest the murderers,rapest,and child molesters who commit crimes while high on marijuana .and all those extreame crashs on the road… still think pots safe.theres a reason its called dope, folks .

  35. bobby: better to remain silent and be thought a dumb ass than to type until you’ve removed all doubt.

  36. ezrydn says:

    Something I’m thinking about is the fact that since there is no (what to the call it?) severability clause in the CSA, then a suit via the CSA argument could have the entire CSA termed “unconstitutional.” If one piece is bad, it’s ALL bad. Do they really want to step there?

    AZ and CA are two completely different arguments. AZ assailed a federal portion of the Constitution. CA affects NO federal changes and requests none. So, what are the grounds? A federal agency has already given some validity to cannabis use: the VA! If you’re now going to tell all those vets NO, you might have a slightly bigger problem than a “camped out Bonus Army.”

    I sorta hope they do bring suit and it, too, smashes them upside the noggin.

    However, I’ll bet that this is nothing compaired to what else they’ll try to pull over the next 7 weeks. We gotta be ready to jump right in the middle of their chests when they show themselves.

  37. Let’s face it, the feds are ignorant, Christian holy rollers who fear a lot of things, either real or imagined. If they legalized drugs and handled their tax and sales like they do alcohol, everything would be fine. Alcohol kills people, pot does not, but alcohol is legal. Why? Because law makers drink. The funny thing is that I would bet that many law makers are probably closet pot smokers. Why is alcohol legal and pot is not? Marijuana has medicinal properties, alcohol does not. Cigarettes cause cancer, marijuana does not. The government has spent millions studying it and they all know it is non-addictive and actually has cancer retardant properties, but still it is illegal. Alcohol ruins peoples’ lives, marijuana enhances terminal peoples’ lives. It should be legal and taxed. Revenue and prsion population reduction. Balance the budget through legalization! Alcohol should be a schedule I drug, not pot!

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