Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee last week that his department was not prosecuting medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with state law. In the week since, drug reform advocates have culled together an overwhelming amount of evidence that Holder either lied to the committee, or—as seems to have been the case with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm's "Operation Fast and Furious"—is oblivious to what his department is doing outside Washington, D.C.
Just to review, here's what Holder told the House Judiciary Committee:
Asked about what critics have charged is an overly aggressively enforcement campaign and broken administration promises — including in states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes — Holder denied the charge.
"This is inconsistent with the little thing called the facts," Holder said in testimony in front of the House Judiciary committee.
Holder told the committee that the Justice Department is not using "limited resources to go after people acting in conformity with state law."
"One has to deal with the reality that there are certain people who took advantage of the state law and a different policy that this administration announced...and have come up with ways they are tkaing advantage of those state laws and going beyond what those states have authorized," Holder said.
Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access called Holder out last week. Now here's Eric Sterling pointing out that the DOJ has threatened to prosecute state employees who comply with their states' marijuana laws:
U.S. Attorneys have threatened state governors that the Justice Department would prosecute state employees who are carrying out state law.
In June 2011, the threats were so real they worried New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), a former U.S. Attorney himself.
In Delaware, this spring U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly, III, threatened to prosecute state employees while state officials were developing the regulations to fine tune the state law. In that case the Justice Department was trying to prevent any possibility that anyone could be in "conformity" with state law! Governor Jack Markell actually stopped state employees from going forward in the regulation writing process.
In the adjacent state of Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley was so alarmed by Oberly's threat, he announced, before the General Assembly could even mark-up a bill in committee, that he would veto any bill that was sent to him!
Last September, the BATF, a unit of the Justice Department, advised all federally licensed firearms dealers that it would be a crime if they sold a firearm to anyone they knew was a state-licensed medical marijuana patient.
In the week since Holder lied, Reuters reported that the Justice Department is using asset forfeiture laws to target landlords of pot shops. If they don't evict medical marijuana outfits, Justice can seize their buildings:
A civil statute designed primarily to seize the assets of drug trafficking organizations is now being wielded by federal prosecutors in California in an unconventional and little-noticed attack on medical-marijuana shops in the state.
Prosecutors have brought more than a dozen lawsuits seeking the forfeiture of commercial properties that house marijuana shops. The actions pressure owners to either evict these controversial tenants or face costly legal battles or the loss of their buildings.The goal is to scare owners into cutting their ties to such tenants and to help the Justice Department combat the medical marijuana industry, estimated at $1.7 billion annually, without confronting it head-on with costly and potentially embarrassing criminal prosecutions, industry sources and legal experts said.
And here's another case in which the Feds shut down a dispensary that local government approved of:
DEA agents raided the El Camino Wellness Center at 2511 Connie Drive early Monday morning. They also raided the homes of the center’s executive directors, according to a press release from Americans for Safe Access.
“The community is in shock because El Camino Wellness Center was a model dispensary that had hosted tours of the facility for numerous members of City Council, as well as state and local officials,” according to local ASA representative Courtney Sheats. “There has been nothing clandestine about its operation.”
Unlike Fast and Furious, Holder isn't claiming that he didn't know about Obama's medical marijuana crackdown when it was happening. It's happening right now, and he says it's not. Amazing.