Hit & Run

Meet California's Face of Federal Government Resistance—Eric Holder?

His Department of Justice prosecuted legal marijuana growers in the Golden State, but that was totally different!

|

Eric Holder
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA/Newscom

When Eric Holder was attorney general for President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice used the federal ban on marijuana possession to arrest and imprison Californians who were legally growing under the state's medical marijuana laws.

But never mind—that Donald Trump sure is a monster! Concerned about what Trump might do to increase enforcement of immigration laws and to loosen environmental regulations, California's state legislature has hired Holder from his law firm, Covington & Burling, to serve as outside legal counsel. Mind you, California has a very powerful and expensive crew of state-level attorneys, but what's an additional $25,000 a month (for now)?

From The New York Times:

[State Senate leader Kevin] de León said he expected California to challenge Washington — and defend itself from policies instituted in Washington — on issues including the environment, immigration and criminal justice. He said California Democrats decided to turn to Mr. Holder as they watched Mr. Trump assemble his cabinet and begin to set the tone for his presidency.

"It was very clear that it wasn't just campaign rhetoric," Mr. de León said of Mr. Trump's proposals over the past year. "He was surrounding himself with people who are a very clear and present danger to the economic prosperity of California."

They're going to fight the Trump administration over differences on criminal justice, they say. But there's no reference to how Holder himself treated California and its citizens when he was attorney general when it came to marijuana enforcement. Or maybe that's the point? Holder knows full well all the awful things the federal government can do to the citizens of California because he used to be the guy doing it?

That Holder oversaw an agency that sent Californians to federal prison even though what they were doing was legal in the state does make one wonder how (or if) the state would respond if the Trump administration were to initiate a new drug war crackdown now that the Justice Dept. has finally actually backed off. Californians just voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana use, but Trump's nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is a noted drug warrior.

Hypocrisy aside, perhaps Holder's involvement will help protect California citizens from harsh federal criminal enforcement. Though, based on the arguments presented by the state, Holder's involvement is also designed to keep the feds from freeing California citizens from the state's massive oppressive regulatory apparatuses on environmental and development issues.

Below, watch ReasonTV detail the federal government's imprisonment of Californian medical marijuana grower Aaron Sandusky under Holder's watch: