In a press conference intended to celebrate a series of DEA raids on Mexican cartels operating in the U.S., Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the medical marijuana raids. He said this:
What's particularly delightful about this is that DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was standing right next to him. It would have been nice if the cameras had turned to capture Leonhart's expression as her new boss announced the termination of the vicious campaign for which she bears great responsibility.
Although we've known this was coming for some time now, it's particularly gratifying to watch the Attorney General's mouth form the words we've waited 10 years to hear. So many have sacrificed so much to get us to this point. There were so many times when this fight looked hopeless to everyone but us, which is worth keeping in mind the next time someone tells us we're asking for too much.
As a decade of bad policy is brushed aside with scarcely a whimper, it's becoming clear how fictitious and contrived this debate has been from the beginning. One can scarcely overstate how ridiculously unfounded the fears of our political culture have proven to be. It's amazing to think that our government remained invested in this preposterous crusade for so long not because our leaders necessarily believed in it, but often because they simply lacked the courage to consider a change of course.
As sad as that sounds, there's a lesson here in that the best arguments for reform will often have more to do with politics than policy.