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Did Jeff Sessions' Marijuana Memo Restore the Rule of Law?

Pot prohibition gives vast discretion to U.S. attorneys, who have never prosecuted more than a tiny percentage of offenders.

USDOJUSDOJAttorney General Jeff Sessions said the memo on marijuana enforcement he issued yesterday represented "a return to the rule of law." White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders offered the same spin, telling reporters "the president believes in enforcing federal law...regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration." But the the question for U.S. attorneys confronted by state-licensed marijuana suppliers was never whether they would enforce federal law; it was how they would enforce federal law.

National Review's David French agrees that Sessions' action amounts to "a restoration of the rule of law and the end of yet another unconstitutional Obama policy that privileged executive power over the American constitutional structure." He argues that the Obama administration tried to achieve through executive action what only Congress can do: repeal the federal ban on marijuana (a move that French supports). French is surely right that the Obama administration's prosecutorial restraint, as a solution to the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws, was vastly inferior to legislation making the federal ban inapplicable to people who comply with state law. But even if U.S. attorneys use their discretion differently in response to Sessions' memo (and it's not clear they will), they cannot avoid picking and choosing among cases, because it is impossible to "enforce federal law" against all violators, or even a meaningful share of them.

Marijuana enforcement is primarily a state responsibility, with the feds accounting for less than 1 percent of arrests. U.S. attorneys have never prosecuted more than a minuscule percentage of federal drug law violations. They have always had to decide which drug cases were worth pursuing, and they have always had very broad discretion in doing so, for better or worse. Those decisions became more complicated as more and more states opted out of marijuana prohibition, because the Justice Department could no longer count on state and local help in enforcing the federal ban. The DOJ never had the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition on its own, and now it has to be even pickier in selecting its targets.

The Obama administration's approach to this issue was a study in ambiguity. It could not simply announce that state-licensed marijuana growers and distributors, who openly commit federal felonies every day, would not be prosecuted as long as they complied with state law. Instead the guidance that Deputy Attorney General James Cole gave in 2013, which Sessions rescinded yesterday along with four related memos, said compliance with state law was one factor to consider in choosing marijuana cases. His reasoning was that oversight by "a strong and effective state regulatory system" makes it less likely that a marijuana supplier's activities will implicate "federal enforcement priorities" such as preventing violence, sales to minors, interstate smuggling, and "adverse public health consequences."

Cole did not tell U.S. attorneys to leave state-legal marijuana businesses alone. "The existence of a strong and effective state regulatory system, and an operation's compliance with such a system, may allay the threat that an operation's size poses to federal enforcement interests," he said. "Accordingly, in exercising prosecutorial discretion, prosecutors should not consider the size or commercial nature of a marijuana operation alone as a proxy for assessing whether marijuana trafficking implicates the Department's enforcement priorities listed above. Rather, prosecutors should continue to review marijuana cases on a case-by-case basis and weigh all available information and evidence, including, but not limited to, whether the operation is demonstrably in compliance with a strong and effective state regulatory system."

Contrary to what a Justice Department official claimed yesterday, that memo did not create a "safe harbor." Cole issued no orders to ignore federal law, made no promises, and gave no guarantees. In practice, however, U.S. attorneys since 2013 generally have refrained from prosecuting state-licensed cannabusinesses unless they violate state as well as federal law.

It is not clear whether that will change now that Sessions has scrapped the Cole memo. Yesterday the U.S. attorney in Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for five years, issued a press release saying Sessions' memo would not affect his prosecutorial practices. "The United States Attorney's Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions—focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state," said Bob Troyer, whom Sessions picked as interm U.S. attorney in November. "We will, consistent with the Attorney General's latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado."

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, which includes San Diego, welcomed Sessions' memo but likewise indicated that it would not change his approach to marijuana cases in a state where medical use has been allowed since 1996 and legal recreational sales began on Monday. "The Department of Justice is committed to reducing violent crime and enforcing the laws as enacted by Congress," said Adam Braverman, who like Troyer was appointed interim U.S. attorney by Sessions in November. "The cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana has long been and remains a violation of federal law. We will continue to utilize long-established prosecutorial priorities to carry out our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis."

With or without the Cole memo, Troyer and Braverman are being highly selective in deciding which federal drug felons are worth prosecuting. Troyer is focusing on "those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities," while Braverman is pursuing "our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis." Their descriptions of their prosecutorial priorities sound very much like the Cole memo. It is hard to see how the rule of law is any stronger now that Sessions has told Troyer and Braverman to continue exercising their vast discretion as they see fit.

If there is a rule-of-law problem here, it is similar to the one created by alcohol prohibition. The federal government has decided to ban peaceful activities that violate no one's rights, turning millions of otherwise law-abiding people across the country into criminals. The number of offenders is so large that the feds cannot hope to catch and punish a significant percentage of them, even with the cooperation of the states. Almost everyone who violates the law does so with impunity, while the high prevalence of these so-called crimes gives police and prosecutors dangerously broad authority to harass people and deprive them of their freedom. The treatment of the tiny share of offenders who happen to be arrested and prosecuted seems utterly arbitrary and unjust, inviting jury nullification.

The ban on marijuana is even more offensive to the rule of law than alcohol prohibition was, because it was never authorized by a constitutional amendment. The grotesque stretching of the Commerce Clause required to justify a law that applies to every trace of cannabis in America, whether or not it crosses state lines, down to the plant in a cancer patient's closet or the bag of buds in her dresser, is surely a bigger challenge to the rule of law than a weaselly memo suggesting how federal prosecutors should exercise a power they never should have been given.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Fact: All lawbreakers belong in jail!

  • Billy Bones||

    Which is approximately 99% of all Americans. Maybe that's why Trump really wants to build the wall--make US one huge prison.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Yeah.........right. I'm sure that's what he had in mind.

  • Nominalis||

    Fact : All prohibitionists belong in Hell.

  • ||

    Restoring the"Rule of Law"is important but Public Opinion must be respected. Sessions kinda gave prosecutors leeway to let the States go on with their legalization.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    At his confirmation hearing, Sessions said it was his job to enforce existing laws and congress' job to change the law if they didn't like that. He wasn't wrong. Congress needs to get off their cowardly lazy asses and fix this.

    They don't even need to legalize it. It would solve the problem by a,ending the current federal law to defer to allow any state legalization to supersede it.

  • Juanito_Ibañez||

    "Restoring the 'Rule of Law' is important but Public Opinion must be respected."

    "Public opinion" must be turned into law by acts of the legislature: not by Obama's executive order.

    "Sessions kinda gave prosecutors leeway to let the States go on with their legalization."

    That is known as "prosecutorial discretion."

  • Tionico||

    all who break LEGITIMATE law, yes, READ your Constitution and come back and tell us precisely WHERE FedGov find or invent the "authority" to regulate what we do/do not put into our bodies......

  • BambiB||

    The lawbreakers who MOST belong in jail are those like Obozo, Holder, Clinton and Lynch.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    Fact: Not all lawbreaking acts are jailable offenses.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    *jackoff motion*

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Let me offer a simple solution: don't smoke pot.

  • Tony||

    I disagree.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I suppose you would if only to be a contrarian.

  • Tony||

    Also weed is fun.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Yeah, but you also enjoy being gay so I'm not sure you're the best person to take entertainment advice from.

  • Tony||

    Don't knock it till you try it.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    There are some things in life that one just knows there is no need to try. For example, I wouldn't pour hot bacon grease on my dick just to say I tried it.

  • ||

    No one's claiming that's a good idea.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    So?

  • Tony||

    Well how hot are we talking.

  • ImanAzol||

    Five seconds on google says people do this bacon grease thing.

  • Trollificus||

    Rule 34. There's porn of people doing it.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Tony should try that. He should also drink Drano.

  • L.G. Balzac||

    which...? huh? I smoke herb but I won't blow Herb.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Tony will do that.

  • Billy Bones||

    So I can still eat it? Just so long as I don't smoke it?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    It's easier to hide and is less obnoxious that way.

    Would you prefer that I say don't consume pot? To include jamming it directly up your ass?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Vaping removes most of the smell and greatly mitigated any health risks.

  • Zeb||

    Solution to what now?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    If you don't consume pot, you won't run afoul of all this pot-related nonsense.

  • Zeb||

    That still doesn't do much for all the people who already have criminal records or are serving time.

    You don't like drugs. Good for you. Seriously. But you are making a silly argument (I'm sure you know that too). Do you also advise people who don't want their rights to armed self defense violated not to own guns?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    If owning a gun were illegal, the easiest way to avoid running afoul of the law would be to not own a gun. You can dislike the solution, as do I, but that doesn't make it not the simplest solution. If people want to consume pot, go right ahead. It's not my thing but as long as it's not bothering me I really don't care. It seems silly though to argue that avoiding pot is the easiest way to avoid running into Johnny Law from time to time.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    *argue against yada yada

  • SQRLSY One||

    The only TRULY tried-and-true, infallible way of avoiding the wrath of Government Almighty, is to suck the big, fat, hairy, smelly, putrid dick of Government Almighty, all day, every day! Git yer Vaseline out!

  • SQRLSY One||

    Methodology for sucking said Guv Almighty Dick... Sing songs of Praises!

    Scienfoology Song… GAWD = Government Almighty's Wrath Delivers

    Government loves me, This I know,
    For the Government tells me so,
    Little ones to GAWD belong,
    We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
    Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
    Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
    And gives me all that I might need!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    DEA, CIA, KGB,
    Our protectors, they will be,
    FBI, TSA, and FDA,
    With us, astride us, in every way!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

  • PavePusher||

    Those jack-boots CAN'T be comfortable.

    Fascism is BAD, m'kay.....?

  • paranoid android||

    Simpler solution: fuck off, slaver

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Slaver? For offering advice on how not to get arrested? That's pretty stupid on your part.

  • Horatio||

    You know how some idiot feminists say you shouldn't take steps to avoid being raped, but rather we should teach men not to rape? And how stupid that is since you can't really change human nature?

    Well, we ostensibly *can* change the worst laws we have so your advice comes across as limp, defeatists, short-sighted, prudish, and - worst of all - something a fucking narc would say.

  • ravenshrike||

    Except plenty of people don't want to change the actual law. They just want the Executive to order all the federal prosecutors to ignore their pet growers only. Changing the law would in fact be the correct course of action.

  • Tionico||

    as in formally repealling the marijuana prohibition laws, which are blatantly unconstitutional to start with.

    And no, I don't use the stuff, and don't want to. I don't use tobacco, either, but support the liberty of anyone who wants to. Tannu=ing light beds aren't my thing, either, but FedGov have NO business regulating them, either, Nor do they have any business regulating liquor.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Yeah, we're going to teach people with violent personality disorders not be vicious predators. I'm sure that will work.

  • ||

    Also, don't get your door kicked in due to a wrong-address no-knock raid by the police at 3am based on a bogus anonymous tip. Simple.

  • Trollificus||

    Hey, if you don't want the Fed jackboots to come bustin' your door in at 3AM like you were some kinda thug criminal, don't be growing state-legal pot according to state regulations like a thug criminal.

  • Devastator||

    An even simpler solution: Get your nose out of something that is none of your fucking business. My body, my choice.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There you go! This Beauregard Sessions is the one Randal Paul, the girl-bullying "libertarian" voted to confirm as A.G., right? So if the Reichstag passes Kristallnacht laws disarming all Jews, dots de law, right? And Randal's connivance makes it ipso facto libertarian, so the science is settled.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Jeff Sessions HOT today! It be all Jeff Sessions today.

  • Juice||

    Ugh. I'm getting sick of hearing about the rule of law. "The law may be shitty and tyrannical, but it applies equally to everyone and is always 100% enforced, so that's good, because rule of law." How about letting liberty rule for a while?

  • Zeb||

    It's not even a real thing. Law doesn't do anything by itself. Only people rule. Talking about rule of law just lets people pretend that government is something other than one group of people trying to boss everyone else around.

  • Tionico||

    or maybe even the Constitution?

  • damikesc||

    You are aware that Sessions' decision can be overridden, easily, without any input by Trump.

    Congress can legalize pot tomorrow if it wants to do so.

    Why blame Sessions for Congressional ineptitude?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Exactly. I basically said the same thing above. Even modifying the law to accommodate state legalization would fix the problem, and such a bill should theoretically pass easily.

  • Trollificus||

    Last round of rationalizations I heard, they CAN'T easily remove it from Schedule 1 and the controls that go with that classification. Removal from Sched 1 requires "evidence of legitimate medical/health uses" which supposedly doesn't exist because the FedGov declines requests to do testing to confirm legitimate medical/health uses. (yes, I know, such evidence actually does exist)

    A perfect Catch-22 situation where all 535 can go home and claim "Sorry, there was nothing I could do.".

    Changing the whole "Schedule 1, 2, 3" system is obviously a legislative bridge too far, I mean, it's right there in the Constitution.

  • Hank Phillips||

    I've got $20 eager to say the Dems will have a legalize it plank in their next presidential platform. Another $5 says they forget all about the global warming carbon tax or "carbon pricing." If only there were a way for the Reason Foundation to hold these types of bets for payoff...

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    ANY person in the Congress can introduce one little paragraph into ANY bill to repeal ANY law they find offensive. All the Congress has to do is pass that bill into law and they can even do that against any objection of the Executive.

    If they are too chicken to do that, ANY person in the Congress can introduce one little paragraph into ANY bill to prohibit expenditure of funds for ANY law or activity that they find offensive. All the Congress has to do is pass that bill into law and they can even do that against any objection of the Executive.

    This AG and Executive seem like the folks who would actually follow either of the above paths, as opposed to so many others before them. Especially that last Executive that 1/3 of the Reason staff voted for.

  • Horatio||

    I've seen the polling on weed legalization. Given the ridiculously cringy lengths our Boomer pols go to in order to "secure the millennial vote" it's incredible that federal legalization isn't a crusade by either party. Lends weight to the theories that there's simply too many Feds making too much money for it to come up.

  • ||

    Securing the millennial vote is important, but not nearly as important as preserving the senile vote, since their participation rate is rather larger than millennials.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Get the seniors high?

  • ImanAzol||

    There's the prison guard union, who'd rather guard 50 Phish fans caught with bongs than a single axe murderer, the police union, who gets to steal all those lovely cars for use and sale, just by saying they thought they smelled pot, then never actually charging, the people who make drug-testing kits, the people who offer drug "education," the people who offer drug "counseling," the people who SELL test kits and tactical gear...all of them earn money helping ensure people don't have wrongfun.

  • Tionico||

    don't forget the lawyers, prosecutors, judges, court hooh hahs, who ALL make a signficant portion of their living picking on "drug users". Not to mentioni the for-profit prison industry, and the parole ossifers, and the others involved in the entire racket.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    We're fucked.

  • Trollificus||

    Don't forget Big Pharma who sell quite a few very expensive products which function less well than doses of marijuana and Big Alcohol for obvious reasons, AND "rehab facilities" and counselors who treat an addiction they know doesn't exist, but for which treatment they DO get paid...

    It's quite an impressive list of people who get paid for, basically, ruining other citizen's lives. That's why taxation and decriminalization is the route to take, rather than flat-out legalization. These people will all have to be paid off, as the moral argument has clearly not swayed them.

  • Tionico||

    BOOM!!!!! and THAT is the root of the persisting prohibition. Yes, FedGov make HUGE bucks off the "war on drugs", costing is in every aspect of its being waged upward of a trillion dollars per year. MY tax dollars....

  • ThomasD||

    Likewise couldn't the Executive order the delisting of anything currently appearing on the Federal controlled substance schedules?

    Obama could have done it, but didn't. I wouldn't expect Trump to do it, but he could.

  • Hank Phillips||

    1/3 of the staff could use a refresher course in fractions. LP spoiler votes absolutely change bad laws! If they didn't, the DemoGOP kleptocracy wouldn't whine about them so pitifully.

  • Nominalis||

    So the plan is to clog the criminal justice system with low-level cannabis offenders while the clearance rate of murder cases continues to decline?

  • ||

    Well, do you have another plan for saving civilization, smart guy?

  • Devastator||

    Saving civilization from pot smokers? LMFAO

  • Trollificus||

    They prefer easy money as opposed to dangerous, difficult money? Do you find that hard to believe?

  • LHB||

    If you want to read the legal reasoning that underlies the Fed's attempts to override state laws legalizing medicinal or recreational marijuana read Raich v. Gonzales (1996).

    In addition to making the Interstate Commerce Clause of The Constitution infinitely elastic, it contained this "brilliant" line of legal reasoning (if I may condense and paraphrase):

    ' A person growing marijuana for their own personal consumption could have just as easily bought it from a person located in another state. Therefore by growing it for their own personal consumption they are interfering in interstate commerce and their actions are subject to Federal Government oversight.'

    I believe it was Scalia who wrote the majority decision.

  • Tionico||

    so a completely in-house chain of possession (growth, cultivation, harvest, processing, consumption) is "commerce"? These guys have rubber brains.

  • ThomasD||

    Raich didn't give us that bit of 'interpretation,' it goes all the way back to Wickard V. Filburn, and the plant in question was wheat.

    Never trust a progressive.

  • ThomasD||

    I should add that, had Raich gone the other way then SCOTUS would have effectively invalidated Wickard v/ Filburn - which would have brought a massive edifice of the Federal government crashing down.

    So, rather than principle they chose discretion.

    Expect a similar outcome when SCOTUS addresses the whole gay cake baking mess. They cannot side with the cake bakers without putting decades of 'anti-discrimination' law in jeopardy.

  • ||

    Even a progressive can be correct, part of the time. What, in substance, do you disagree with in the post that you poo-poo? That the IC Clause and the Supremacy Clause are not "elastic" to the point of breaking? That it is a matter of guilt before proving one's innocence, that the Federal govt. can-and does-prosecute for personal possession, cultivation and use, even if those prosecutions are "infinitesimally" small?! There have been many cases of Fed overreach and abuse of the IC Clause, certainly made more frequent and prominent in the Lincoln Administration.

  • Juanito_Ibañez||

    "I believe it was Scalia who wrote the majority decision."

    This decision is based upon the rather ancient 'Wickard v. Filburn', 317 U.S. 111 (1942) SCOTUS decision (https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/317us111).

  • Devastator||

    I don't give a fuck about their legal reasoning, it's stupid and it's plain as day. Alcohol results in thousands of deaths a year. Show me more than 10 a year from pot other than stupid artificial situations created like law enforcement raids.

  • Trollificus||

    Marijuana ruins tens of thousands of lives every year!! These people are jailed, beaten, shot and a felony placed on their permanent records, shaming their families and damaging their prospects for future employment! There are probably more than 10 suicides per year from this alone!

    Oh, did you mean deaths from the drug itself?.

    "Well, insufficient research blahdeblah impaired driving erumph derpdederp uh mumble mumble Why do you hate the police?"

  • Johnny B||

    LHB: One correction:
    "The ruling was 6–3 with Justice Stevens writing the opinion of the court, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter and Breyer. A concurring opinion was filed by Justice Scalia." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzales_v._Raich)

    Quoting from the Wiki article:
    Justice Scalia wrote a separate concurrence that had the effect of differentiating the decision from the previous results of United States v. Lopez and United States v. Morrison. In a departure from his textualist interpretation of the Constitution (he voted for limits on the Commerce Clause in the Lopez and Morrison decisions), Scalia said his understanding of the Necessary and Proper Clause caused him to vote for the Commerce Clause with Raich for the following reason:

    Unlike the power to regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, the power to enact laws enabling effective regulation of interstate commerce can only be exercised in conjunction with congressional regulation of an interstate market, and it extends only to those measures necessary to make the interstate regulation effective. As Lopez itself states, and the Court affirms today, Congress may regulate noneconomic intrastate activities only where the failure to do so "could… undercut" its regulation of interstate commerce.... This is not a power that threatens to obliterate the line between "what is truly national and what is truly local."

  • Leslie the Bard||

    I suspect there's a deeper game going on here. Sessions' threat to crack down on pot has brought California's plans to reap billions off the product to a grinding halt -- and just after CA declared itself a "sanctuary state". This is a subtle warning that Trump can pull yet more $$ out of the state, at a time when CA most needs it. What would happen to the state's economy, do you think, if the naval base at San Diego were shut down, and all its personnel, facilities and ships were sent to Oregon instead? What about all the other military bases in California? What about the federal money that CA gets for its Welfare programs? I think the govt. of California is about to learn what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you.

  • Tionico||

    Except Oregon and Washington are just about as librull, and pro amnesty, illegal foreign invaders, sanctuary status, and both states now have both medical and funsies marijuana use legalised. But, by far California stand to be tortured the most... and have the most to lose. Yu may well be "on" to something here, Leslie......

  • Devastator||

    No one pays attention to Washington and Oregon.

  • Hank Phillips||

    From the Sessions memo: "Feel free to bring throwdown dope and guns whenever a phonetap indicates we have us a chance to nail one of them commie sanctuary states-rights Democrats!"

  • seahorsedan||

    Please allow me to say this unconfirmed remark is passed on from unknown sources. For at least the last 50 years the U.S. Attorney General's comments and federal law has never had any substantial effect on the cannabis industry in CA or any where else up to now. In 2002, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg quotes on his past use of pot, saying "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." Look at the bright side now though: Mexico might suddenly feel the need for a wall and build one first and can you imagine how fast under employed liberal youth might suddenly develop an affinity for a career in agriculture? Like they say these days: "Never let a catastrophe go to waste". God bless General Sessions and NORML. National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws..
    It looks like a perfect compromise for congress to cancel DACA 100%, deport illegal aliens, limit immigration and help Mexico fund the wall in exchange to allow states to grow, sell and tax pot. A 'uge win for everyone.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Weed is legal in California because prohibitionist asset-forfeiture raids there and elsewhere wrecked the national economy thanks to faith-based infiltration and George Waffen Bush. The same thing happened in 1932, when Bert Hoover had Customs and Treasury agents murdering with impunity, and the Internal Revenue boys confiscating bank accounts, breweries, farms, factories, homes, hotels and whatnot. Money left the banks and brokerages lest it be confiscated and the liquidity crunch had shut down every bank before the FDR five years' imprisonment and $10,000 fine "bank holiday". It takes a disaster to repeal murderous idiocy because most lack the backbone to make ten times the difference by voting libertarian.

  • Tionico||

    "the president believes in enforcing federal law...regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration."
    Fine and dandy. How bout we restore the Constitution to its rightful place as "the supreme law of the land"? Doing that would necessarily moot or nullify ALL of the federal Controlled Substances Act.... as said Constitution assignes NO authority or jurisdiction to FedGov over ANYTHING we do/do not put into our bodies.

    Since the Constitution, together with all laws made "persuant thereto" (which, as noted above, excludes laws on subjects not assigned FedGov, and thus also excludes laws relating to what we do/do not put into our bodies) IS the Supreme Law of the Land, it would necessary end ALL federal attempts to enforce the unconstitutional drug laws now on the books, but moot, null, void, of no effect........
    On the other hand, that same Constitution positively assigs FedGov SOLE authority over immirgration, thus any law enacted by Fed Gov relating to immigration IS law, and MUST be enforced.

  • Ecoli||

    Congress could fix this problem.

    SCOTUS could fix this.

    It's almost like they don't want to.

  • SovereignMary||

    AG Sessions needs to go.
    Jeff Sessions' has been UN-Constitutionally promoting and accelerating the Unlawful federal "War On Drugs", as well as promoting Civil Asset Forfeiture which has been a complete violation and usurpation of the 4th Amendment protections.
    Jeff Session has been nothing but a feckless disaster as the U.S. Attorney General.

  • ||

    "We will continue to utilize long-established prosecutorial priorities to carry out our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis."
    The tail wagging the dog?

  • ||

    Where in the Constitution, and its supporting documents, is there authority to legislate morality and to control what one chooses to ingest? Let's call the "for the children" and "for the sake of public safety" for what it is: a steaming pile of horseshit. The states and its people will eventually-maybe not in my lifetime, or yours-say enough is enough, and a new Republic will dawn!

  • Longtobefree||

    Just for the record; all criminal law is 'legislating morality'.

  • Juanito_Ibañez||

    Jacob Sullum wrote:

    "He argues that the Obama administration tried to achieve through executive action what only Congress can do: repeal the federal ban on marijuana (a move that French supports)."

    Problem here is...Congress CANNOT "repeal the federal ban on marijuana," as that ban is in accordance with an international treaty: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,1961(unodc.org/pdf/convention_1961_en.pdf).

    Under this treaty Congress DOES have the legal authority to legalize the medical use of cannibis (aka: marijuana).

    However, the treaty specifically makes the RECREATIONAL uses of marijuana completely ILLEGAL.

    In order to make such usage legal, Congress would first have to pass legislation to withdraw from the treaty; then get the president to sign off on it. Furthermore, under the Supremacy Clause, states CANNOT make legal that which federal law specifically make ILLEGAL.

    Ergo; each and every states' "marijuana legalization law" are unconstitutional on its face -- even if it was passed to "legalize" "medical marijuana" usage (remember: even medical usage is still illegal under existing federal law). You want to legalize marijuana, Mr. French? Then do so in the legal and proper manner!

    "Marijuana enforcement is primarily a state responsibility..."

    Since it is federal law that makes marijuana illegal, a state does NOT have legal authority OR jurisdiction to enforce federal laws.

    If you don't believe that fact, just ask "Sheriff Joe" Aripaio!

  • Johnny B||

    Juanito_Ibañez: Excellent comment. Thanks, UN and Kennedy Administration.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So? Before 1986 none had argued the ABM and SALT Treaties violated the Second Amendment. But after public debate, those treaties were scrapped. This dilemma shows the wisdom of steering clear of Paris and Kyoto-stye hara-kiri treaties and working scrap other nonsensical pacts that have already snapped shut about our ankles--such as this anti-hemp conspiracy and the communist Moon treaty.
    But when light beer was a shoot-to-kill felony, state after state repealed prohibition laws enacted before of after the Volstead Act and the Five & Ten law. They called it concurrent prohibition, and Republican Quaker Herbert Hoover was reduced to tears every time still another state quit shooting people over the Demon Rum and Beer of Beelzebub.

  • Hank Phillips||

    By now Jacob Sullum has certainly read the 18th and 21st Amendments and see there is nothing in the way of states repealing pot laws. Herb Hoover faced his dilemma because the Prez has no role in changing the Constitution. He did say that the best way to get a bad law repealed was to ruthlessly enforce it, and that he did until states were lining up to repeal prohibition. But the hurdle is lower since the 21st Amendment, and the Harrison and hemp laws were not Amendments. The current Prez said "Libertarianism? I like it", then got nominated and elected while LP spoiler votes appreciated 328%. Republican pseudoscience says to kill people over prophecies of Reefer Madness from plant leaves. Democrat pseudoscience says to make electricity a controlled substance or we all broil. Many Dems believe Global Warming bullshit because Republicans (who pay to kick in their doors) like electricity. Trump could sign an EO asking DOJ to leave potheads alone just as he pulled us out of the Vichy Paris CO2ercion. It would be like Nixon playing the China card and could eliminate the two greatest dangers facing the economy.

  • IMissLiberty||

    Congress needs to grow a backbone. Maybe this will help.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    Drumpf's amnesty to dreamers till March is against the rule of law too. How? It is just like Obama's except less compassionate.

  • marslife66||

    he is another constant genius.

  • Longtobefree||

    No.
    The rule of law would require moving marijuana off the schedule one drug list, as it has proven medical use.

  • Crask||

    They're telling us that if we want marijuana legalized, we need to write our congress people to make laws addressing it. Perhaps repeal some federal laws, perhaps guarantee through law that it's a state matter, things like that. They're not going to do that if you don't write them and tell them you want that.

  • Longtobefree||

    I think I will tie that message onto my pitchfork, and light a torch to be sure the message can b seen, and march into Washington DC so the legislature can see it.
    Oh, wait. There is no constitution in the District Columbia, and weapons are banned. And free speech needs a government permit.
    Welcome to the revolution.

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