In response to Friday’s threat by the Obama administration that they will “vigorously enforce” federal anti-marijuana laws in California, regardless of whether voters enact Proposition 19 this November, I have the following commentary in today’s edition of The Hill.
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.
My commentary is already the ‘most viewed’ and ‘most commented’ story on The Hill’s website, but you can still leave the Obama administration your two cents here.
Speaking of the Administration’s announcement, we now have L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca stating publicly that he will instruct his police officers to disregard the voters decision regarding Prop. 19. “Proposition 19 is not going to pass, even if it passes,” Baca has stated publicly. That’s right; we now have high ranking members of law enforcement bragging that they will openly engage in behavior that disobeys state law. I believe that society has a word for people like that: ‘criminals.’
Of course, reformers ought to take comfort in the Administration’s and Baca’s latest comments, as it shows that the supporters of prohibition — what few that are left — are running scared. After all, if our opponents weren’t convinced we were going to win on November 2, they wouldn’t be spending so much verbal bluster — and believe me, it is strictly bluster — on what they are going to do, or not do, on November 3.