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March 22, 2012

Colorado federal prosecutor explains to Boulder DA his pot prohibition plans

As reported in this prior post, Boulder's District Attorney last week wrote to Colorado's federal prosecutor in Colorado to urge him to stop threatening to prosecute medical-marijuana dispensaries abiding by state law.  Now, as reported in this follow-up article, US Attorney John Walsh has written back to explain why he is so eager to have the federal war on drugs waged against some medical-marijuana dispensaries.  Here is more:

In the letter to Garnett, Walsh reiterated that he decided to target dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools after seeing evidence of a rise in youth marijuana use that coincided with the boom in medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado. "We concluded that our responsibility — as federal law enforcement officials and also as Coloradans living in the very Colorado communities impacted by these alarming trends — required a response," Walsh wrote to Garnett.

More than 20 dispensaries closed or moved after receiving letters from Walsh's office. Walsh told Garnett he plans to send more letters to other dispensaries until no such businesses remain in Colorado within 1,000 feet of schools. "This program," Walsh wrote, "is not at the direction of Washington, D.C., but at my direction as U.S. Attorney and as a Coloradan."

Colorado law places a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and schools but also allows local governments to shrink that distance or grandfather in existing businesses. Medical-marijuana advocates say there is no evidence dispensaries — near schools or otherwise — are illegally selling to kids.

The fascinating full two-page letter from USA Walsh to the Boulder DA can be accessed here

I would LOVE to hear from members of the federal Tea Party caucus (e.g., Michelle Bachmann) or from other Republicans who have stressed states rights to be free from federal overreach and over-regulation about this interesting spat over local pot policies.  This dispute seems like an opportunity to discover whether some on the right who complain about the size and growth of the federal government are really troubled by all forms of big government or only those forms of big government that they do not agree with.

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March 22, 2012 at 09:29 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Doug --

You may be the only person left on the planet who wants to hear more from Michelle Bachmann.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 22, 2012 9:56:07 AM

Bill--

I don't think the professor means he wants to hear more of Bachman's usual blather. He'd just like to hear why she thinks the feds stepping on the toes of the states re marijuana regulation fits in with her usual blather.

Posted by: sherman | Mar 22, 2012 3:31:32 PM

As a supporter of federalism I certainly think that federal criminal jurisdiction has been severely overstretched, but whatever we might wish the law to be, a U.S. Attorney must deal with the law as it exists. I think it is absurd to ask a federal prosecutor not to enforce federal law.

Posted by: Dennis Skayhan | Mar 22, 2012 3:47:00 PM

bill: "You may be the only person left on the planet who wants to hear more from Michelle Bachmann."

me: I'm pretty sure that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert really miss having Michelle Bachmann in the spotlight.

Maybe not as much as they miss Christine "I Am Not a Witch" O'Donnell

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Mar 22, 2012 5:23:12 PM

Dennis, I agree with you generally, but with 2 comments. (1) I think the interesting thing here is not what the Bachmans of the world think about a federal prosecutor enforcing federal law, but what such folks think about Congress enacting such federal law. (I know Congress can, see Raich, but whether Congress should is the question here.) (2) It is perhaps not as absurd to ask a federal prosecutor not to enforce federal law when the federal prosecutor's boss (the Attorney General)has asked the federal prosecutor not to do so.

Posted by: sherman | Mar 22, 2012 6:38:09 PM

Erika --

"I'm pretty sure that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert really miss having Michelle Bachmann in the spotlight."

You could add Bill Maher to that list.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 22, 2012 6:57:44 PM

The Tea Party people who make the most noise couldn't care less about things like federalism and personal freedom. They just want lower taxes, fewer entitlement programs for the poor, and more than anything, to get Barack Obama out of the White House. The Michelle Bachmmanns of the world want the government to control the most intimate details of people's lives, as long as it doesn't interfere with what wealthy corporations do. I'm not painting all Tea Party advocates with this brush--just the ones who go on Fox news and shriek about Obama being both a socialist and a fascist at the same time.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a federal prosecutor making a judicious decision to decline to enforce certain laws. They do it all the time. But states formulating their own policy on marijuana is a real threat to the federal government's hegemony over drug policy, and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security cannot stand idly by and watch their power be eroded by some upstart state government that's trying to respond to the will of its people.

Posted by: C.E. | Mar 22, 2012 10:46:10 PM

"being both a socialist and a fascist at the same time"

Aye, like apples and oranges? Except…

"Nazism, [is] the common short form name of National Socialism"
"Fascism was a major influence on Nazism…[since]1922."
----- ----- ---------- ----- ----- ----- ----- ---------- ----- -----
"Walsh reiterated that he decided to target dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools after seeing evidence of a rise in youth marijuana use that coincided with the boom in medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado."

This has to do with the "growth of the federal government" in what way?

so many non se' quiturs, so little time

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 23, 2012 11:32:33 AM

C.E.: "The Tea Party people who make the most noise couldn't care less about things like federalism and personal freedom. They just want lower taxes, fewer entitlement programs for the poor, and more than anything, to get Barack Obama out of the White House."

Where were those T-baggers when Bush was spending taxpayer money like a kid in a candy store? The country hemorrhaged jobs during the entire last 4 years of G.W.'s term, yet no cries of tossing tea into the Boston Harbor could be heard. Two rounds of tax cuts for the rich, two wars and a prescription drug program for Medicare recipients with no way to pay for any of it, and the tea party could not be found. A housing crises, banks running wild, and not so much has a hiss from the T-Baggers. Half-black guy gets elected President and they come out of the woodwork like cockroaches pissing-n-moaning about Big Government.

When your idea of big government is tax breaks for the rich, tax breaks for corporations and killing entitlements, you don't much care about much else... that is unless want to take a women's right to contraceptives away.

Posted by: Huh? | Mar 25, 2012 10:58:35 PM

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