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April 4, 2016

Senators Grassley and Feinstein convening hearing on whether DOJ is "Adequately Protecting the Public" from state marijuana reforms

This recent press release from US Senate's Caucus on International Narcotics Control details that this caucus has a hearing scheduled to explore how the federal government is keeping an eye on state-level marijuana reforms. (Exactly what this has to do with international control is unclear, but big-government drug warriors on both sides of the political aisle like Senators Grassley and Feinstein have never really been too keen to worry about limiting government growth in this arena.) Here are the basic details on what is prompting this hearing:

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, will hold a hearing entitled, “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?”

In August 2013, the Obama Administration decided to effectively suspend enforcement of federal law on marijuana in states that legalized it for recreational use. But to disguise its policy as prosecutorial discretion, the Administration also announced federal priorities that it claimed would guide its enforcement going forward. These priorities include preventing marijuana from being distributed to minors, stopping the diversion of marijuana into states that haven’t legalized it, and preventing adverse public health effects from marijuana use. At the time, the Justice Department warned that if state efforts weren’t enough to protect the public, then the federal government might step up its enforcement or even challenge the state laws themselves. This put the responsibility on the Department of Justice to monitor developments in these states, develop metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of its policy, and change course if developments warranted.

But a report from the Government Accountability Office that Grassley and Feinstein requested found that the Administration doesn’t have a documented plan to monitor the effects of state legalization on any of these priorities. Moreover, according to the report, officials at the Department could not even say how they make use of any information they receive related to these priorities. Grassley and Feinstein are convening this hearing to explore this problem.

What I find most notable and disconcerting about this hearing is that it claims to be exploring whether the big federal government bureaucrats inside the Beltway at DOJ who are very far removed from direct public accountability are "protecting the public" from state reforms in Alaska and Colorado and Oregon and Washington which were enacted directly by the public through voter initiatives.

Cross posted at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform.

April 4, 2016 at 11:35 AM | Permalink


Two of the worst politicians ever conspiring in bi-partisan grandstanding to increase the encroachment of the federal gubmint and prolong one of the worst policy mistakes in the history of the US. Great! Fan-freaking-tastic.

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Apr 4, 2016 2:15:39 PM

These two individuals have depended on expanding the reach of government for many years. This is the reason for the demise of the control of the Democrat and Republican Party establishments. Both parties have failed to protect civil liberties and freedom from intrusive government regulation and statutes.

Posted by: beth | Apr 4, 2016 2:38:30 PM

Government is sometimes okay. For instance, expanding the reach to protect health is often a good thing. Things have improved in various ways especially if you are gay. Need more specification.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 4, 2016 2:55:04 PM


Not just "two of the worst politicians ever" but two of the most psychopathic human beings ever!

Posted by: albeed | Apr 4, 2016 5:18:16 PM

This is grandstanding and isn't going to change anything.

However, if they're going to hold hearings on whether the Federal government is adequately protecting the public, hopefully someone will use it as an opportunity to explore the actual danger to the public caused by marijuana - and even the potential benefits. Maybe they can use the hearings to reevaluate whether Marijuana should be classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

Posted by: Erik M | Apr 4, 2016 5:18:40 PM

Back in the good 'ol days the government could do what it wanted without anyone questioning it. There was even free Victory gin.

Posted by: Winston Smith | Apr 5, 2016 1:06:09 AM

Sen. Feinstein is my Senator and I support her on this. It is just a hearing, giving a few people the opportunity to speak to the subject on the record. I don't see why any hearing which seeks only to collect and publish information should be considered "disconcerting."


Posted by: Gary | Apr 5, 2016 1:20:42 AM

Gary, yeah, she's just sending smoke signals.

SF's Dianne Feinstein: 'Worst Senator on Marijuana Reform'
By Chris Roberts

Wednesday, Jul 1 2015

Posted by: Winston Smith | Apr 5, 2016 4:23:04 AM

Riddle me this, Gary. There's already a caucus for this. If there needs to be data-gathering, fine, great, have at it. But why a HEARING? Hmm? Are they soliciting views from the public at large?

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Apr 5, 2016 9:29:40 AM

Perhaps they've been contacted by constituents who have a business plan for a company that will monitor this. All this intrusion and study is extraordinarily expensive.

Posted by: beth | Apr 5, 2016 6:06:44 PM

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