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Is the Obama Administration Planning a Federal Marijuana Crackdown?

Submitted by smorgan on
In discussing strategies to reduce drug war violence in Mexico, Attorney General Eric Holder made this troubling remark:

In the interview, Mr. Holder said he was sending an additional 100 agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the southern border to crack down on the so-called straw gun purchases — in which one person submits to the federal background checks to obtain guns for someone else — that fuel much of the southbound smuggling. And with marijuana sales central to the drug trade, Mr. Holder said he was exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required for the federal prosecution of possession cases. [New York Times]

It's a disturbing comment that provoked curiosity from Pete Guither and Eric Sterling, but the back-story helps to qualify exactly which type of marijuana offenders we're talking about. From a meeting with prosecutors in Baltimore:  

The officials who met with Holder today quizzed him on a variety of local concerns. For example, Barbara LaWall, the Pima County, Ariz., attorney, said that federal prosecutors in her state were refusing to take cases involving cross-border marijuana seizures of 500 pounds or less.

The result, she said, has been no convictions for hundreds of smugglers caught with about 490 pounds of marijuana. [Baltimore Sun]

So when Holder says he's "exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required for the federal prosecution of possession cases," he's responding to complaints that major traffickers are currently being allowed to walk. Obviously, he's dreaming if he thinks lowering the threshold will intimidate traffickers who've already made it clear that they fear nothing. Our failure to prosecute cases under 500 pounds just shows how ridiculously outmatched we are and any attempt to rectify the situation will only serve to further prove that point.

Regardless, Holder's comment shouldn’t be read as a declaration of war against American marijuana users. He's not saying there will be an effort to increase arrests. They are aiming to put more people in prison for pot, however, rather than continuing to systematically pass on cases involving hundreds of pounds.

If Holder wants to reduce Mexican drug war violence, he needs to reduce the drug war itself, not the thresholds for marijuana prosecutions. Believe me, Americans would be happy to grow their pot at home and defund the marijuana cartels entirely.

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