Drug Policy

Is DOJ's Silence on Marijuana Legalization an Encouraging Sign?


This week Washington Gov. Jay Inslee discussed marijuana legalization in his state with Attorney General Eric Holder for 45 minutes and afterward said he heard nothing to dissuade him from implementing Initiative 502. Inslee called the meeting in Washington, D.C., "very satisfying" and "a confidence builder," although it sounds like Holder did not say much, let alone commit to anything:

"We went in thinking we should continue with rule-making, and nothing I heard should dissuade us," Inslee said.

At the same time, he stressed that Holder said nothing about the federal government's intentions and whether it would crack down on Washington state or look the other way.

Inslee said he did not press Holder for a clearer signal, or position, because he considered their talk a preliminary meeting, with more discussions to follow.

Noting that the state is moving ahead with rule-making, Ferguson said he emphasized that the state would like answers soon. "We made it very clear that while we're moving forward, some deadlines are coming up soon. I think Attorney General Holder understood that we'd need guidance in months to come," Ferguson said.

Inslee said several times the state would provide Holder with details about how it would prevent its legal marijuana from leaking into other states.

"We spent some time talking about how the initiative would work, how the regulatory process would work. He listened with great interest, and I appreciated that," Inslee said….

In case the federal government decides to oppose the law, Ferguson has a team of lawyers in his office preparing to make the best legal case for upholding I-502.

"I said we want to avoid a legal fight," Ferguson recounted during a news conference after the meeting with Holder. "We want to find a pathway forward. But if it comes to it, the Washington Attorney General's Office will be prepared for a legal fight."

The U.S. attorney's offices in Colorado and Washington all decline to say how they will treat newly legal marijuana growers and sellers. Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, says he can only point me to his boss's December 10 statement that marijuana remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, that the Justice Department still has a responsibility to enforce that law, and that neither the executive branch nor the states "can nullify a statute passed by Congress." Joe Harrington, spokesman for Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, says, "I don't want to comment on what might happen a year from now." Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for Jenny Durkan, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, says her office is waiting for guidance from the Justice Department, which is developing a "coordinated response." I have been trying for weeks to get an answer from Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre about when we can expect to hear the Obama administration's plan for responding to marijuana legalization, but she is not returning my calls.

In the meantime, both Colorado and Washington are beginning the process of writing the rules for growing, processing and selling marijuana. On Tuesday the Washington State Liquor Control Board held the first of six hearings at which it will take public comments about what its marijuana regulations should look like. On the same day, the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, charged by Gov. John Hickenlooper with advising state legislators and regulators on how to proceed, officially adopted its first recommendation, one of many that will appear in a report due by the end of February. The first recommendation addresses banks' leeriness of marijuana money, which stems from the fear that accepting it might expose them to civil and criminal liability under federal law, a problem that could severely impede the emergence of a recreational marijuana industry. Tellingly, the task force's recommendation involves sending a letter to Washington, D.C.:

In order to maximize transparency, accountability, and public safety, the Amendment 64 Task Force recommends that as soon as practicable, the Governor, the Attorney General and groups representing state-based financial institutions, the state marijuana industry, and state business interests jointly request that the President of the United States, the U.S. Department of Treasury and any other appropriate federal agency modify federal regulations, including Bank Secrecy Act regulations, to ensure that businesses engaged in the lawful cultivation and retail distribution of marijuana pursuant to [Amendment 64] are able to access banking services, and provide guidance on their intention to enforce federal regulatory and criminal laws against depository or lending institutions doing business in Colorado with marijuana businesses that are in strict compliance with Colorado law. The request should include a deadline of March 31, 2013, to ensure time for the Colorado General Assembly to consider any other options during the 2013 session in the event we receive no response.

So far "no response" seems to be the Obama administration's official policy regarding the crumbling of the marijuana prohibition regime. I suppose this keenness to avoid the issue could be seen as an encouraging sign, which seems to be Inslee's view. Call it the Opacity of Hope.

NEXT: NM Exempts Legislators From Speed Limits and Other Laws

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  1. I suspect we will look back on this article as the triumph of hope over experience.

    [cue dunphy on how no one ever need worry about going to jail for pot ever again.]

  2. Holder has learned from watching the rest of the Cabinet over the last four years. He isn’t saying anything that Congress or the Press can pin to him later when he decides it’s time to show those wayward provinces who Caesar is.

    1. When did Barney Miller turn so evil?

  3. See, this is why I couldn’t be governor, or should be depending on how you look at it. In my state I would not only disallow any help for federal enforcement against pot users, dealers, what-have-you, but also decree that anyone attempting to arrest someone for pot would be arrested for trespassing, assault, kidnapping, and whatever other charges we could come up with. I would love to see that fight. It’s time for states to stand up to the feds where the feds have no business legislating or enforcing.

    1. I’d simply deploy the national guard to protect our state’s businesses and growers from federal raids. See if Obama is willing to risk a bloodbath over prohibition. Guarantee you he stands down.

  4. Is DOJ’s Silence on Marijuana Legalization an Encouraging Sign?

    In survival school, they gave us a cute white bunny to butcher and eat. They taught us to pet and sooth it before violently snapping its neck so it wouldn’t secrete adrenaline and taint the meat….


    1. Questions?

      Yes, are certain breeds better for meat than others? We were considering buying some rabbits to raise for slaughter since there was a hutch already here when we got our place, but all I can find are ones designated for pets. I don’t want to kill a fluffy little bunny unless I know he’s gonna produce a decent amount of tasty meat but if I can’t find any big-breed rabbits for sale, can I grow pet rabbits to a good enough size that it’s worthwhile?

      1. You can, giving them hormones may help, but then of course you run the risk of THIS!

        1. Thanks. Ask a serious question get a jackass answer.

          It’s the Reason way.

          (Just kidding)

          1. Raising rabbits, in my opinion, is more work than it is worth.

            But that’s just my opinion.

            1. Raising all those ducks seems like a huge pita as well. Why don’t you just go buy a hunting license and go shoot em?

              1. My neighbor used to raise ducks. He said the most difficult and frustrating part was that they are incredibly stupid animals.

                1. Apparently they’re a lot smarter than turkeys, which will drown in a rainstorm because they keep looking up to see what’s hitting them in the head with their mouths open.

                  Speaking of which, we’re gonna order a bunch of turkeys when they start taking orders next month. I’ve offered before but anybody out west that wants a bird or two needs to let me know so we can raise them for you. The place we’re getting them from has a pretty broad selection, and we’re gonna get a mix of domestic, wild and heritage birds, but if anyone wants something very particular, let me know so I can be sure to request and tag it appropriately.

                  1. Apparently they’re a lot smarter than turkeys, which will drown in a rainstorm because they keep looking up to see what’s hitting them in the head with their mouths open.

                    I once believed that myth myself.


                    Snopes is a wonderful site.

                    1. Thanks, Captain Buzzkill.

                      Is nothing sacred anymore?

                      (misposted below)

          2. Also google ‘giant north korean rabbits’

            1. Seriously, do this.

            2. Thanks, Captain Buzzkill.

              Is nothing sacred anymore?

            3. Holy shit, that’s awesome.

              I want some of those. I mean I don’t know how the meat will taste, but I want some.

              1. I wouldn’t bother. You’ll just be hungry again an hour after you eat one.

                1. He said they’re Korean rabbits, not Chinese.

                  1. If you kill a vampire with garlic chicken stir fry, is he undead again in a half hour?

              2. Oh, you’ll taste just fine…to the rabbits.

      2. can I grow pet rabbits to a good enough size that it’s worthwhile?

        If rabbit meat was economical compared to chickens or pork, it would likely be available commercially.

        Bunnies make good pets for kids — got three for my kids — but breeding them for meat — why? Just buy a chicken at the store for next to nothing.

        1. Just buy a chicken at the store for next to nothing.

          Yeah, and get a tasteless bird. No thanks. I raise my own.

          By the way, looks like our sow is preggers. You all know what that means for Little Dunphy, don’t you?

          [makes throat-slitting gesture]

          1. Unless you really like the taste of rabbit meat over that of chicken, I’m guessing rabbits would be more work to raise than chickens. And then there’s the “mommy, don’t kill our pets” disadvantage of bunnies over chickens, too.

            Knew someone who raised rabbits for meat, and called one of them Tastes Like Chicken, though that might have been more for the lulz in horrifying the kids.

            1. Well, my kids participate in the slaughter and processing, so I doubt I’ll have that problem once I cook the first delicious one up.*

              *They were not happy when they watched me process the first chicken, but immediately overcame it while at the dinner table later than evening. I suspect the same will happen with rabbits, as it did with the ducks I’ve killed. (Still biding my time for when I can catch that evil bastard that came at me the other day.)

  5. The only thing scarier than the DOJ talking is the DOJ being silent on an issue. Those malignant fucks haven’t given a shit about freedom, liberty or justice in quite some time.

  6. “Inslee said several times the state would provide Holder with details about how it would prevent its legal marijuana from leaking into other states.”

    I understand that Washington State is trying to play nice and bend over backwards to avoid any conflict with the Feds… but is it really the state of Washington’s problem that Idaho’s or Oregon’s laws conflict? If other states are having increasing issues with citizens and marijuana then that is their own problem, it’s not Washington’s responsibility.

    1. When the drinking age in NY was 18 and 21 in PA, what was NY’s plan to stop 18 y/o PA adults from going over the boarder to drink?

      1. I don’t know, but if it was anything like their plan to stop 18-year-olds in CT from doing the same, it definitely failed. At least according to my parents and their friends.

        1. Not like the 21 drinking age in PA ever stopped us from buying beer and drinking in PA. It just made us criminals.

      2. duh…er…border.

        We didn’t go over the boarder, he might have been hurt.

    2. Washington State should tell the feds to go fuck themselves and open pot shops at the welcome centers and make overpasses that will take the people who stop there right back into Idaho and Oregon.

      Then they should lower the drinking age to 18 and open up liquor stores there as well.

      And finally, they should legalize gambling and open casinos at every border crossing. At that point, no amount of federal highway funds or any bullshit they could hang over their head would make one iota of difference. Washington State would be rolling in tourism dollars.

      1. Not gonna happen for at least four years. Inslee is a Democrat, hence the deferential treatment of fucking Holder.

        I suspect that the only way this happens is if a Democrat is governor and a Republican is president.

        1. fwiw, WA state does have legalized gambling and tons of casinos. that’s what makes the “it’s a C felony to gamble online ” law such a travesty. WA state is perfectly fine with gambling as long as they get their cut in taxes from the casino. but play a sit and go for $2 in your underwear at home? FELONY

  7. the crumbling of the marijuana prohibition regime

    Yeah right. Once the new rules are put into place in WA and CO, people in the business are going to get rich. I bet there are DEA agents salivating at the prospect of robbing these businessmen blind, because that is exactly what they are going to do.

    1. 100% correct. We’re talking about the same human scum who put Tommy Chong in prison for selling bongs.

  8. “Relax, can’t you you see how eerily calm it is? I told you it was over.”

    Riiight. And just go ‘head and turn in your guns, everybody. We’re all friends now.

  9. Fucking shameless cunt. Too bad for her it ain’t gonna fly.

    1. And speaking of fucking shameless…Dean of the National Cathedral Rev. Canon Gary Hall’s religious political organization needs to be paying taxes or shut the fuck up.

  10. See, the thing is, if you aren’t going to change your policy, you don’t need to say anything. Until they say different, you can be sure they will treat state-legal funpot just like they treat state-legal medpot.

    Silence = continued raids on producers, distributors, and sellers. The only reason we haven’t seen it yet is there aren’t any yet.

    1. Unless you’ve know boots on the ground I would’t even be sure of that. Things have gotten Orwellian enough that Fed raids on state-legal grow ops now frequently go virtually unreported. Desaparecidos.

  11. I think this past election showed them that even Obama’s betrayal of the Cannabis Culture four more years of Obama was better than 8 years with Romney and the Blow back from prohibition is coming home to Haunt them. I think its time to Tar and Feather these DEA Scoundrels and toss them into the Potomac River

  12. Inslee said several times the state would provide Holder with details about how it would prevent its legal marijuana from leaking into other states.


    Unless they put up border search checkpoints on every road leaving the state, not gonna happen. And even then — backpackers.

    Weed will leave the state if it is cheaper than in neighboring states.

  13. By all means, go through your playbook page by page. Then you can recoil in astonishment (feigned or otherwise) when the feds are right there waiting for you at every step.

  14. i remain confident. and in news from the front, the legalization “experiment” is working out great so far.

    it’s a pleasure to now be able to OFFICIALLY ignore marijuana smoking, when previously we mostly UNofficially ignored it.

    good article.

  15. If anything, Washington should be trying to entice Idaho residents to come buy pot, in an attempt to recover some of the sales tax revenues Washington residents avoid by shopping over the line.

  16. The inability of the DC press corps to get Obama on the record on this is shameful. He has given two press conferences, and no one has asked. Hundreds of thousands of people being arrested for simple possession every year, and we’re supposed to think this isn’t an important issue?

  17. The silence from the fed would imply that they are preparing for an assault on the marijuana industry/movement and they will do exactly what they are currently doing to medical marijuana.
    They won’t bust individuals but they will wait for the shops to open, then they’ll raid them and confiscate money and property.
    This is war and these guys fight dirty.
    Start work on ballot petitions now.

  18. earned that one “Sharon Levy” cares more for boot licking than the Hip sohbet odalar? & cinsel sohbet

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