Last month, New York Times staff writer Adam Nagourney wrote an article entitled "Marijuana, Not Yet Legal for Californians, Might as Well Be," which seemed an odd way to describe a state in which meticulously legal pot businesses are still being systematically persecuted by President Barack Obama's Department of Justice.
Today, in a welcome revision, Nagourney is back with a different bite of the apple, this one more accurately headlined: "In California, It's U.S. vs. State Over Marijuana." The article concerns the case of 34-year-old Matthew Davies, a married father of two young girls (including an infant) who had no prior criminal record before being run up on federal charges that could put him in prison for 15 years. Excerpt:
Davies graduated from college with a master’s degree in business and a taste for enterprise, working in real estate, restaurants and mobile home parks before seizing on what he saw as uncharted territory with a vast potential for profits—medical marijuana.
He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits. [...]
The United States attorney for the Eastern District of California, Benjamin B. Wagner, a 2009 Obama appointee, wants Mr. Davies to agree to a plea that includes a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, calling the case a straightforward prosecution of "one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district." [...]
"Mr. Davies was not a seriously ill user of marijuana nor was he a medical caregiver — he was the major player in a very significant commercial operation that sought to make large profits from the cultivation and sale of marijuana," [a letter from Wagner to Davies's lawyer] said. Mr. Wagner said that prosecuting such people "remains a core priority of the department."
Let's underline that last comment. It "remains a core priority" of the Obama administration to deprive little girls of being raised by their fathers. Even in states that have created legal space for pot entrepreneurs to operate. All in the service of a war every sentient adult recognizes is an abject failure.
This isn't just a matter of misplaced discretion. In a climate where pot is now legal in two states, medical marijuana in 18, where public favorability toward legalizing marijuana is spiking northward of 50 percent, and where we're operating on (at least) our third consecutive president who smoked the choom, such prosecutions are analogous to launching a troop surge in 1918, or raiding speakeasies in '32. They are morally obscene.
As (former pot smoker) John Kerry gets ready for his confirmation hearings to be the next secretary of state, let's rephrase his most famous quote: Who will be the last law-abiding father to die behind bars for this mistaken war?
Reason.tv on another California family the Department of Justice recently ruined below:
UPDATE: Read Molly Davies's open letter to President Obama. (Link now fixed.)
UPDATE II: At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf estimates the taxpayer cost of shutting down this one marijuana operation at $1 million.