Drug Policy

Decriminalize, Double Seizures, Whatever

|

Here is another pin in the bedraggled balloon of hope that Barack Obama would de-escalate the war on drugs:

The total amount of marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly doubled from 1,539 metric tons in fiscal 2008 to 2,980 metric tons last year.

The numbers were disclosed as part of the DEA's budget request for fiscal 2011.

To recap: The guy who called the war on drugs "an utter failure" and supported marijuana decriminalization when he was running for the Senate, and who promised to call off the DEA's medical marijuana raids when he was running for president, has sought an increase in funding for that utter failure, ridiculed the very notion of marijuana decriminalization, presided over a doubling in marijuana seizures, nominated a hard-line Bush administration holdover to head the DEA, and continued to let the DEA raid medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations without regard to whether they are following state law, despite a written Justice Department policy to the contrary.

Speaking of which, Jeffrey Sweetin, the DEA official in Denver who declared that he plans to defy that policy by continuing to bust medical marijuana suppliers for violating federal law, no matter what state law says, last week amended his comments a bit, telling Westword:

We are not declaring war on dispensaries. If we were declaring war on dispensaries, they would not be hard to find. You can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting thirty of them….I think the people who claim to represent marijuana growers in this state are trying to create this fear, and I think that's sad.

Yet it was Sweetin who told the Denver Post a few weeks ago:

It's still a violation of federal law. It's not medicine. We're still going to continue to investigate and arrest people….

Technically, every dispensary in the state is in blatant violation of federal law. The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment.

Sweetin now claims Chris Bartkowicz, the Colorado medical marijuana grower the DEA arrested on February 12, was not supplying enough patients to justify the 150 plants that Sweetin says he was growing. But while the general limit under state law is six plants and two ounces of marijuana per patient, the law also says that "for quantities of marijuana in excess of these amounts, a patient or his or her primary care-giver may raise as an affirmative defense to charges of violation of state law that such greater amounts were medically necessary to address the patient's debilitating medical condition." In other words, the legality of Bartkowicz's operation is an issue for Colorado's courts to decide, but the DEA is unilaterally and presumptively branding him a criminal, based on its own allegations of fact and its own reading of state law. As I've argued, when the federal government reserves the right to interpret and apply state medical marijuana laws, the promise to respect state decisions in this area does not mean much. Furthermore, Sweetin still has not retreated from his assertion that, contrary to the official policy of the Justice Department (which oversees the DEA), a violation of federal law is sufficient reason to raid medical marijuana suppliers.

Advertisement

NEXT: Fearmongering at the SPLC

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Obama is willing to piss away his entire Presidency on health care. Wouldn’t it be nice if a President were willing to do that on the War on Drugs?

    1. The difference between thos two scenarios becomes apparent if you look 20 years down the road.

      The health care fiasco will be looked at as an unmitigated disaster of congressional toxic sausgae making if passed.

      Ending the War on Drugs Liberty would be looked at as “Duh! That was a no brainer. Heroin addicts are not roaming the streets like The Family in The Omega Man. How could people be so foolish to think the end of civilization would happen?”

      1. So you’re saying I can toss out my bust of Caesar?

        1. And you can stop watching Woodstock on a loop.

  2. Until and unless Charlie Lynch is pardoned and the DEA is called off, Obama remains a douchebag and a hypocrite.

    Unlike my left-leaning friends though, I will never be disappointed by him.

    -jcr

    1. I certainly argued strenuously against voting for him, but even I am a little disappointed with this. As John notes, ratcheting down enforcement of pot busts would be pretty easy and not unpopular.

      I expected him to have lied about other views, and for libertarians to be disappointed in other ways. I did think that fewer pot busts would be a silver lining, though.

      1. I too thought Obama would lighten up the War on Drugs Youth as well. He’s proven to be either a political coward or a two faced SOB vis a vis drug laws and enforcement.

        Ditto on illegal indefinite detainment of Muslims accused of whatever the term of the day is.

        1. Going easy on accused terrorists is legitimately unpopular. Obama can at least claim to be a political coward acting out of self interest for welshing on that promise. But the pot busts are nothing of the sort. I honestly can’t give an excuse for that other than he really does support the WOD.

          1. I really don’t know how anyone can be remotely surprised by this.

            From his Berlin speech, July 24th, 2008: This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets.

            Yup, the guy who sells an adult an ounce of pot is equal to someone who murders hundreds of civilians.

            What I want to know is how much time Obama thinks he should have spent in prison for doing all of that coke.

            1. Rules are for the little people. And I wonder if he is going to apologize to the country for providing all of that support to criminals.

  3. joe, you scumbag mother fucker, I dare you, dare you, to show your repellent face here. Your scumfuck dirtbag candidate has fucked you, and us, in every way possible, and I want to see you destroyed for your support of him. I want to see you squirm and equivocate and get crushed for it. You are a piece of shit of the highest order, just like your messiah. Fuck you, you complete and utter loser.

    1. Come on, Epi. Obama’s DEA agents are doing God’s work in some of the most laid back neighborhoods in America.

      1. Tell us where joe touched you, Epi.
        On second thought, don’t.

        1. That wasn’t just for joe. It’s for every Obama cheerleader, of whom joe was the prime example. Fuck all of you, you pathetic, cultish, retarded morons. My contempt for all of you is more than you can possibly understand. You are dupes, fools, stooges, and idiots. You voted for a guy who played you so hard that you can’t even show your faces anymore. I’d laugh if it weren’t so fucking pathetic. Oh, wait:

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          1. I concur. It’s a strange, mixed feeling of rage and bewildered amazement at the stupidity of those I see still sporting ‘Obama’ bumper stickers these days.

      2. The DEA looms large. Ha, get it, joe, you fuck?

    2. Hey, come on epi! Get off the fence, will you? How do you really feel about the guy?

      -jcr

  4. So, how’s that liberaltarian thing working out?

  5. How’s that libertarian case for Obama working out for you guys?

  6. I think the people who claim to represent marijuana growers in this state are trying to create this fear, and I think that’s sad.

    WTF?

    Why isn’t this guy in a straitjacket?

  7. What do you expect, marijuana is illegal and is a serious felony. It is a dangerous drug, is not good for us and causes downstream effects on society. We need to uphold the law.

    1. “Downstream effect” – have you been getting golden showers again, Juanita?

    2. Ahhh. My lovely Juanita graces us again with her prescence. A breath of spring on an otherwise dreary winter’s day.

      You have come to me from a distant land,
      Dreamer of dreams, to fill my hearts desire,
      Sweet music flowing from your nimble hand
      That plays within… to light my passion’s fire.

      A symphony of word and thought you bring.
      Excitement builds upon crescendo’s sound,
      Brought forth in tones to make my light heart sing
      For all the beauty that, with you, I’ve found.

      A life is changed in just an instant’s time,
      All darkness fled before that brillaint sun
      That shines from spoken words of softest rhyme
      And speaks of treasures, only just begun.

      This mystic meeting gives my heart a glow
      That few have seen and only you will know.

    3. Being and idiot is no good for us and causes downstream effects on society, yet we let people like you exist and reproduce.

  8. What does the SPLC have to say about this?

    1. That’s racist! and you are planning on shooting somebody aren’t you?

  9. Liberals decry the war on drugs yet escalate it. Conservatives decry big government yet expand it. And we keep electing these people. Any politician who does what he says he’ll do is branded as a radical nobody can do business with.

  10. Obama is not going to get marijuana legalized. But he could have used his executive power to de-emphasize enforcement. Presidents do this all the time. Republicans generally don’t enforce the anti-trust laws very vigorously. Democrats under Clinton at least didn’t enforce the interstate indecency laws. That AG just says “we are not going to prosecute these cases anymore”

    Why couldn’t Obama have done the same with pot? And honestly, does anyone think he would have taken even the slightest political hit for not raiding medical marijuana clinics and telling the DEA to concentrate on cocaine rather than pot? I just don’t get it.

    1. And honestly, does anyone think he would have taken even the slightest political hit for not raiding medical marijuana clinics and telling the DEA to concentrate on cocaine rather than pot?

      Yes, people expect politicions to be tough on drugs to keep them safe and send the right message to children.

    2. Obama won’t do it because it would decrease the scope and power of the federal government.

  11. The law’s the law, grow up and OBEY THE LAW. Marijuana is wrong and is a serious felony that deserves punishment. These criminals need to be rounded up for some good ole fashioned SEVERE PUNISHMENT. We need to do it to protect the children by sending the message that drug abuse is wrong. It is the governments right and in fact obligation to protect us from things that are not good for us, period, end of discussion.

    1. Sorry my love. Only one poem a day.

    2. I don’t think this could get any more satirical.

    3. As the de facto voice of the law-and-order libertarian community, even I must remind you that in Colorado IT’S NOT THE LAW.

    4. Of course, by that logic, there’s an admitted felon in the white house, and several ex-felons getting free secret service protection and hefty pensions from the taxpayers.

      If Obama wants to pursue the war on drugs, he should turn himself in.

      -jcr

    5. So you don’t drink alcohol?

  12. Assuming Juanita ever was a real person, how long has it been since the real Juanita posted here?

    Any guesses?

    1. In search of the historical Juanita.

    2. A lot of people say that the historical Juanita actually preached a message of tolerance and love. But that later Lonewacko purged out those passages as “apocryphal” and gave us the Juanita we all know today.

      1. That’s rank heresy, John!

    3. Today we have been graced with the real Juanita’s prescence.
      True love gives me the abilty to trnascend the intertubes and recognize my love by her posts.

  13. juanita sez no

    protect the children from life

    in thy bubble stay

  14. DEA employees pay union dues.

  15. It is the governments right…

    Hold it right there, bitch. Full stop. Government has no rights – only powers delegated to it by the citizens.

  16. Obama is a disgrace to the office, lying (they all do) and pushing socalized medicine on the people AGAINST thier will. While Cannabis L Sativa would help the very same people with out health insurance he is “trying” to “help” And as far as for the children goes, Is it not the PARENTS RESPONSABILTIY to teach thier children what is good and what is bad, not the goverment. the goverment does that in socalist/fascist/communist/dictorships, and other tyranical goverments. Come on people take responsabiltiy for your own actions and stop relying on Big Brother to make up your minds for you, grow a pair nation, or risk being nuetured.

    1. I hate to break it to you, but what do you think medicare/caid is? Oh, yeah socialized, government run healthcare. Let’s see, what else can we add to the like if “socialized programs? Welfare, the DOT, Fire and Police services, The Federal Reserve, SOCIAL security…..I can go on and on. Our nation has been becoming more and more socialized with every passing decade, all hiding behind the veil of “Democracy” Don’t fool yourself into thinking “Obama” is the cause. Republicans and Democrats alike are responsible.

  17. Let me be clear.

    When my Health Care Reform passes, I will move on to the other business of the American People.

  18. “..grow a pair nation, or risk being nuetured.”

    Hold a bit. If the nation hasn’t a pair, why would it need neutering?
    Oh, wait. You said “nuetering.”
    Carry on.

    1. Grow a pair.

      Made me think of this. (possibly nsfw)

  19. We all have our punching-the-shit-out-of-joe fantasies. But it just isn’t going to happen. There is no way he could defend himself. Now excuse me while I engage in my snorting-coke-off-Warty’s-ass fantasy.

    1. I’m not sure how I acquired a fan, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

      1. Your teabagging skills.

      2. Please of please tell me that you meant, “how I acquired ANOTHER fan?”

        1. No, I think you’re the only person who likes me. Thanks for your support, fagbag.

    2. You have that fantasy too? The main problem, though, is that Warty’s ass hair gets all tangled up with the coke.

      1. Sometimes Epi blindly gropes his way to the truth…

        1. And to the coke?

          1. Nothing can keep Epi away from coke. He senses it with his antennae, I think.

      2. Easy. Give him a bottle of Absinthe, wait until he passes out, then shave his ass.

        1. Seriously Epi, That is what you do withe Steve Smith. Why won’t it work with Warty?

        2. Dennis: A twink is small and slender, like Mac.

          Mac: Oh no, I’m too muscular, I would be a bear.

          Dennis: Ohh don’t think so bro. Not hairy enough.

    3. I must say I read your comment but only glanced at your name and thought it was Tony…almost needed a new monitor but then realized my mistake.

      WHEW!!!

  20. Whoa there fellas – if those numbers include seizures of marijuana from grows that weren’t authorized by the land owners(i.e. National Parks), then Woopie! Do they include drugs seized at the border? If so, another Woopie!(Sorry, I know it’s a bit protectionist)

    The fact remains that CA(among others) has a thriving marijuana marketplace and he’s doing almost nothing to stop it.

    Sure, he can do a hell of a lot more, but, you know, throw the guy a bone once in a while.

    1. He could do a lot more. HE owns the god damned DEA and DOJ.

      1. No shit!!! Like say, “back the fuck off or I will fire you.”

  21. I don’t think the war on marijuana will be lost until some local DA or state AG gets the gonads to arrest federal agents at the airport, on their way out, for ordinary crimes. Breaking and entering, robbery, loitering and prowling at night, etc. All of which are valid.

    1. I’m not suggesting that the AG or DA prosecute them, though that would be justified. I’d be satisfied for now that the federal agents involved just got an arrest record so that promotion-bots at HR would pass them over.

  22. So how, “out in the open” is the medical marijuana culture in Denver and LA? Do you see adds for dispensaries? How do the providers get their weed to the dispensaries? Do they try to hide it?

    I am hoping that we are past a tipping point. It seems as if there is no way the federal pigs (AKA: DEA) could possibly staunch the flow even if they wanted to.

    If the culture has indeed moved on regarding the issue of marijuana, then every DEA raid will only cement the attitude (that we have long had) that they are a bunch of sadistic cowardly thugs.

    1. In Denver it is open enough that dispensaries are getting sign permits at city councils and getting approved. One city councils main concern was not that there was a pot dispensary but that there were 4 already and typical protectionism attitudes were displayed. How I yearn for the days when I view Pot stores as an unhealth looby recieving corporate welfare…wait a minute….

      Your Honor, I object. This man HAS no penis.

      1. hmmm please add a ‘y’ as needed and remove any extreneous ‘o’s as you see fit in the above post.

        Thank you, come again

        1. Ohh and Pat,I will take a ‘B’ as well.

          Where is my CHEESE!

      2. Would it be possible to require that the DEA apply for and purchase a permit to carry out raids on dispensaries?

        Could you take it one step further and CRIMINALIZE the execution of a raid without a permit? Seems like this trick is used on people who want to peacefully protest, so why not use it against the DEA?

        I think a $10,000,000 non-refundable application fee for a permit that will never be issued is pretty reasonable.

    2. So how, “out in the open” is the medical marijuana culture in Denver and LA?

      Don’t know about Denver, but in LA it is somewhat discreet. Some dispensaries have a small sign with the plant icon, most do not. I found the one I go to on the internet. It’s located on a main road in a business district. You could drive by it 1000 times and not know its there. The only indication of it existence is that a one nearby business has a “No Dispensary Parking” sign in its back lot.

      Getting the card the permits you to enter the dispensary is another matter.

    3. Well, the local free paper is chock-full of ads for it.

      The stores themselves are generally discreet just to avoid pissing-off any neighbors. They still have signage, but you won’t find too many Bob Marley themed storefronts if that’s what you’re thinking. They’re pretty similar to a low-key dentist’s office.

      Weed maps is your friend though. Google-maps style directories for your area.

  23. Sure Obama deserves a little blame here. But the states and the growers share in the blame too.

    In Colorado, the patient must have a condition that requires a caregiver, you must be the patient’s caregiver to grow, you can not be a dispensery. You can not use a thrid party to grow on behalf of the caregiver that actually takes care of a patient. That’s a no-no, and that where they are running afowl of the law. I call that bad state law. Because that means, the patient’s nursing home, or live-in caregiver must be the one to grow. Are they kidding? Seriously, who did the state think would grow the pot? An in-home caregiver? The nursing home? Could the nursing home have a gardner on staff to grow pot?

    I’ve argued before that I think the states purposely passed bad law trying to please both sides of the issue. As a result they set-up those who can’t make sense of the screwed up state law to become DEA fodder. Obama could acknowledge that and cut the growers some slack. But what President wants to be soft on crime? Other than their own staff anyway.

    1. I would say it was more a function of the state dealing with a citizen initiate as weekly as they could…hence the insanity. Give Mason Tvert time and recreation private use growing will be allowed in Denver. Problem is the douchebag DA will still ignore the law.

      JACKASS!

  24. ok so the number of typing issues in my above post mean I am done for the day.

    Good Night folks

  25. Yo, fuck the DEA!!!

  26. From a business standpoint, wouldn’t it be much more profitable and less risky to fly under the radar and continue to operate within the black market? Great strategy going after the easy targets while the most profitable and violent stay in business. If the DEA are our best and brightest, would they really be working for the US Federal Government? It seems to me that the DEA is soft on crime. Without the black market, they are out of business.

  27. You know in all fairness 2010 was a bumper crop year for cannabis across the entire North American continent. I’m not sure that it is true that LE had to increase their efforts in order to double seizures.

    1. oops, obviously I meant 2009 was a bumper crop…

  28. I think Sweetin’s comments are quite interesting and I agree with the above comments. It’s definitely a tough/rocky situation.

  29. If we continue to act against the wishes of the majority of the voting public by pressing issues that the citizens have voted against, how can you call America a democracy? These are the actions commonly associated with a fascist dictatorship. When voters vote, it’s supposed to change policy. That’s what democracy is.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.