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Is the Obama Administration Planning a Federal Marijuana Crackdown?

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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here it comes

Sen. Webb`s "commis?ion" on prison or drug war reform will see the light of day in Jan. 2011. In the meantime, expect more status quo. Cops know they have to get it while they can.

More arrests?

Pat, Holder was quite clear that he's trying find a way to prosecute cases that currently aren't being taken. We're talking about people who've already been arrested.

Your claim that they're planning "more arrests" is simply not supported by the facts. If you can show me where he said they were looking to increase arrests, I will correct myself. If not, you should consider fixing the title of your post.

$3-billion in Byrne Grants

What will they do with $ 3-billion in Byrne Grants for drug task forces? Buy girl Scout cookies?

The Holder statement speaks for itself:

"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."

Your qualification for existing cases is simply not in the Holder statement.

When the federal government lowers the threshold it licenses and green lights the states to do the same.

The issue is not 500 pounds, 490 pounds or one ounce. The issue is more prosecutions for any amount. the issue is Hillary Clinton pointing to American DEMAND as the problem. Demand is users not dealers. Possession is targeting users.

When it comes down to it they are talking about escalating the freakin drug war. More prosecutions means more drug war. More Byrne Grant money means more drug war. I don't give a flying fart how you parse it, rationalize it or deny it. The Obama administration is talking about prosecuting and funding MORE DRUG WAR.


"The issue is not 500 pounds, 490 pounds or one ounce."

Of course it is. Are you kidding? There's a monumental difference between prosecuting a couple pretty big cases that were previously allowed to slide, as opposed to sending the DEA after the vastly larger number of personal users. Aren't you pleased to learn the context behind Holder's remark? It's still bad, I agree, but not nearly as bad as it sounded.

I oppose this for all the same reasons you do. Nonetheless, we all have an interest in figuring out what precisely the attorney general means when he's says something like that. The information I've provided is relevant, right?

The "context"

Is entirely your assumption.

I don't try to figure out what people are saying I take their word at face value. I learned, as a journalist, to NOT put words into the mouths of others.

The context of Clinton, Holder and Obama with Mexico has been to place intensified emphasis on American consumption. American DEMAND. You, I and they all know that more busts in the distribution is useless. That ultimately, to the drug warriors, reducing demand means more arrests and coerced drug court imposed rehab of users.

Holder setting an lower threshold for federal prosecution lowers the bar all the way down the food chain. Adding money for more local drug task forces, more drug courts and prisons warrants filling those prisons with the more, more, more or the same users they have been filling those prisons with for decades.

Everything that I have seen of the Obama Administration tells me that they are escalating and militarizing the war on drugs. EVERYTHING. That is wrong. 100% wrong in every way, shape and form. Escalation will hurt everyone in America. No matter how you choose to parse or compartmentalize it.

Yes, context

First, we don't even have Holder's actual words, so none of us has a monopoly on what he meant. All we know is what NYT says he said.

Second, you're giving me a hard time for putting words in peoples' mouths when you wrote a blog post called "Obama Plans Intensified Pot Arrests," even though Holder has not reportedly said anything about increasing arrests. You're entitled to your interpretation, of course, but don't accuse me of making assumptions when you're quite clearly doing the same.

Third, it is a fact that state prosecutors have been complaining about the 500 pound federal threshold very recently. Do you honestly doubt that this is what Holder was referring to? There will be more reporting on this soon and we'll know whether or not my interpretation is correct. Notwithstanding your larger concerns about Byrne Grants, etc. (which I share, of course), do you agree or disagree with my interpretation of Holder's comment as a reference to the 500 pound threshold?

1,2,3 what are we fighting for? ....

First. You are attacking the messenger, the New York Times. Personally, I have more confidence in the Times reporting than I do your interpretation of their reporting.

Second. Byrne Grants require more arrests to validate their existence. And Holder saying that he is looking to lower the threshold for prosecution requires more arrests going forward. This is not a moment in isolation but rather a shift on policy going forward. Any other interpretation is ludicrous.

Third. Yes, I honestly doubt that your 500 pound theory is specifically and categorically all that Holder was talking about. To think as you do tortures reason, ignores common sense and denies history. I totally disagree with your assertion that Holder had to be speaking only in the context of prosecutors bitching for more latitude in existing cases.

I hope that my title betrays how long I have been watching this issue.


...I'm sure you'll join me in hoping you're wrong. I'm not expecting a reduction in federal marijuana prosecutions under Obama, but nor am I concerned that we'll soon see the Dept. of Justice going after individual users in small-time possession cases.

I always hope I am wrong

in my analysis of authoritarian drug warriors. Thus far that has never been the case. Escalation is all that they know.

And we will never really know what Holder means since I am the only person on the planet to really try to challenge him about it. I have no real voice so we will never know.

In the 1990's the state courts got clogged with all of the crack cases due to Clinton's increased enforcement and the federal government had to lower their threshold to push more cases into federal courts. This resulted in the horrific prison racial disparity statistics and prisons being filled to over-crowding.

Now the Democrats intend using the same reduced threshold tactic for pot to shove more cases into the federal courts. When the campaigning Obama decried the racial disparities in incarceration rates he was not talking about sending fewer blacks to prison. He was talking about sending more whites to prison to balance the statistics. This is one of the tactics he intends using to do that.

This is the war on drugs. Expect the worst and hope for nothing.

And nothing is all that I expect as long as reform organizations are content sitting in offices at keyboards playing the online activist fantasy game instead of getting out in the real streets of America and loudly demonstrating the intensity and scale of the opposition to this damned war. Computer activists are like appliances. As easily ignored as TV's, refrigerators and computers. dismissed as casually as Obama did a couple of weeks back. Masses in the streets cannot be denied or so easily denigrated.





I don't get it...

An amerikan citizen can be persecuted and imprisoned for 2-5 years for smoking a joint in a federal nat'l park, but, someone smuggling 490 pounds across the u.s. border is immune from drug prosecution and trespass?

I agree that the Obama administration may not be planning more aggression but Obama did hurt the advancement of a rational, evidence, based debate when he childishly dismissed the #1 online question... as whacky libertarian pro-choice talk.

In essence Obama has just bitch-slapped the online communty which, as you know, remains predominately libertarian, pro-choice, and informed... and had a lot to do with Obama getting elected... unfortunately?

The song remains the same... debate within the 2 party / 0 choice system... is not welcome... and usually ridiculed as crazy talk by druggies... that want to rape the souls of their children with drugs... other then alcohol.

Personally, I do not think it's funny when fools keep getting fooled again.

Truth is Treason in the Kingdom of Lies - Ron Paul

Pat said it best

Pat you and I see things ALMOST the very same way. As a proud Southerner, I don't like your pic on your profile, but as an American I'll defend your right to post that horrible pic until the day I die.

Keep up the good work.

Robert Hutton

Question: Are these smugglers escaping any prosecution...

...or are their cases being transferred to state attorneys?

You have hit a nail

State prisons are over-flowing and the federal government is simply putting a relief valve into the system by taking more cases into federal court. This is the crack scare in the late 1980's all over again but with pot. The transfer of crack/powder coke cases to federal courts then has been proven to be an atrocity. A crime against humanity. But here they are doing the same fucking thing only this time with pot volume and the reform leadership is busy making excuses for it.

The more I look at this the angrier I get. Not just at the Obama administration who I always knew would be a drug warrior administration. But I am really getting angry at the reform organizations that are making excuses while an atrocious history repeats itself.

Instead of parsing the size of busts we should be focusing on the over-burdened system from top to bottom and demanding that Holder look for ways to reduce the volume of people being put into the prisons.

Drug War = Treason

The problem with the D & R's is they routinely rape and bugger the Constitution in the name of their political party.

Why do those sworn to protect and defend the constitution get away with routinely violating it... inorder to advance the principles and goals of their political party.. which rarely is in the interest of the individual citizen?

Individualism, to the purveyors of gods & gov'ts, is evil, selfish, and antagonistic to their greater goal... of controlling your actions... for their benefit.

Unfortunately, the majority of americans have adopted and identify themselves with a complacent, apethetic, delusional, and seriously flawed religious value system.

Jim Webb, whom I respect tremendously for his brave and long overdue stance on drug & judicial reform, got it right when he rhetorically asked on the floor of the senate whether "...80 percent of americans were evil?" Well not exactly... but 80% of americans still identify themselves as being religious... which is close and scary enough for me!

Has the drug reform community forgotten that the first drug war, which was waged against the drug alcohol between 1920-1933, was a religious war waged by the METHODIST TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT... and continues today against marijuana with broad support by the leaders of most of the major religious groups!

But no matter how delusional and harmful religion is to our cognition and sense of right and wrong... it pails in comparison to the treasonous actions of our federal government and the elected religious prohibitionists that pretend to represent us.

efficiency elimination of redundancy

"Holder's comment shouldn’t be read as a declaration of war against American marijuana users."

No need, one already exists.

The paradox of the war on drugs

According to the wise man on teh mountain top:

The more we arrest, the more we have to let go.

Patriot Act Might Be Used To Prosecute Pot-Growers As Terrorists

The USA Patriot Act's mention of incidental criminal networks-opened the door for police under the Act’s anti-terrorism provisions to broadly use wiretaps and spy on U.S. Citizens.

The Act defines supporting "terrorist activity” as any criminal activity that "participates" in "World Markets" that terrorist may use or depend on for their support. For example someone distributing illegal-drugs could be charged with supporting a “Criminal Market” that terrorists use—based on the premise both criminals and terrorists use the same world networks and organizations to "Market" illegal-drugs; and have interests in criminal activity." That criminal/terrorist-activity link by the Patriot Act is—logically flawed when you consider that a common car thief could be charged with supporting terrorism by selling a stolen car on a "criminal market" a terrorist used—among many non-terrorists. Such flawed logic could as easily be used by government to charge a “common criminal’s illegal activity” supported a lawful “Market” terrorists are dependent on for support. Brilliantly the “Patriot Act” spins full circle to include all commerce as being “One Market” to charge “common criminals” with supporting terrorists: brilliant because all legal and illegal “markets” are linked at some point by commerce.

As the drug-war heats up on the U.S./Mexico Border expect this illogical premise of the Patriot Act might be pushed by U.S. Government as a Flagship to prosecute “ordinary American criminals” for supporting “markets” terrorists may depend on for support. While there are narrow illegal-markets where prosecutions may be justified, for example Americans fronting for narco-drug-gangs to buy and supply guns, Americans should be careful U.S. Government does not expand this concept similar to (RICO) to be all inclusive of commerce.

U.S. Government before tried to merge lawful and unlawful commerce to forfeit innocent owners’ property. You may read that “Government Concept” in United States v. 92 Buena Vista Ave. (91-781), 507 U.S. 111 (1993) at:

U.S. Police using the Patriot Act’s low probable cause requirement can too easily wiretap and spy on innocent U.S. Citizens they believe might be involved in ordinary crime. Congress should let provisions of the Patriot Act due to Sunset in December 2009, EXPIRE.

don't people realized that

don't people realized that the Patriot Act is not constitutional.The constitution already states what the requirement for probable cause is,and they can not change that without a constitutional amendment period.

When you have been screwed for so long....

What do you do when you are persecuted to the point of extermination? You fight back. Our gov't has become nothing but a tool for global corporations to do their bidding. Our humanity is dying day by day as we become slaves to the camera and technology and as we are crammed into a zero and a one. My ancestors would be rolling in their graves if they saw what has happened to the Constitution that they fought for. I served in the ASir Force for the Bill of Rights and now I know it was all a lie. The Patriot Act is clearly unconstitutional, the war on marijuana is unconstitutional Where is the Constitutional amendment to ban it like there was for alcohol? There isn't one.) Know your customer banking regulations, Capps 1 and 2, eschlon, carnivore, a drinking age of 21 etc are all unconstitutional frauds and yet no one fights to get rid of them; instead, we've been acclimated to eat a manure sandwich overtime by being brainwashed as school kids and then force fed it as adults. Take lockdowns for instance. Whole sections of neighborhoods are locked down now if someone is killed, especially a cop. This isn't to find the killer. It is to serepticiously violate the Fourth Amendment by bring dogs around houses and apartments or actually searching these establishments for the so-called purpose of finding the killer and keeping you safe but actually to fish for pot growers and other criminals. They started after Columbine and now they use it in our everyday lives. I've NEVER heard of lockdowns of neighborhoods before about 10 years ago. Now it is ubiquitous. What is the point of what I am saying. The point is that if you think for a second that the reform movement is winning, you are kidding yourself. Sure, there are small victories, but there are just as many cretons out there who will do anything to keep what butters their bread and if that means throwing you in prison then so be it. Eric Holder is a smarmy fraud just as Bidden is our arch enemy just as Obama is a spinless, hypocritical worm. They are politicians that are beholden to the teetottlers of society and the business world and that isn't going to change no matter how many times Obama has inhaled. The fact that Obama will probably join a baptist church says it all. I've had my fill with the intolerant teetottling social engineering southern baptists. The reality is this: You are the enemy and you better remember that. No one is to be trusted, because when you turn your back on them they'll have the chance to put the knife in, and most likely, they will do it.


I don't know what he's trying to accomplish with this. Seems backward.

Would not doubt it

Would not doubt it. He has said one thing and done the other on almost every single policy point he ran on during the election.

Let's just Re-Legalize by Supporting the MERP Model

It is pretty obvious that Obama has betrayed the American People: insisting on fighting the Mexican Drug Cartels rather than just destroying them by immediately Re-Legalizign Marijuana. Let's just get'r done in 2009 and insist that Marijuana is taken off the Controlled Substances Act and that every adult over 18 can self-cultivate just as we can self-brew our own beer and wine. That is the solution, so lets just do it.

The MERP Model for Re-Legalization will destroy the Mexican Drug Cartels and much, much more. Please visit and post the following link far and wide. This subweb is both for understanding MERP and implementing MERP. We need everyones help on this. Get on the mailing list now! Let's Re-Legalize Marijuana in 2009 World Wide.

MERP Headquarters
The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy Project (MRPP)

Re-Legalize Marijuana Now, Obama (1)
Re-Legalize Marijuana Now, Obama (2)
The Peaceful 2nd American Revolution Begins by Re-Legalizing Marijuana
Re-Legalize Marijuana: A Better Way to Destroy the Mexican Drug Cartels
Marijuana: Past, Present and Future from Bruce Cain on Vimeo.

Scott Morgan

Your blog has been officially dubbed "underground" and those of us that support it have been labeled "Trolls" by the White House.






I just reread the Fox article and notice that there are no actual comments from the Obama White House. It is all Fox reporter assertions and innuendo/analysis.

Fox is trying to stir the shit and make it stink.

Bloggers in bed with the Enemy?

Notice this quote from Pelosi,
"Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families?" Pelosi told a mostly Hispanic gathering at St. Anthony's Church in San Francisco.

Sounds alot like the DEA kicking in doors in the middle of the night, eh?

But, NO, she was talking about immigration.

I may have had a eureka moment, so allow me to think outloud......
During the Bush Admin there (justifiably) was some vicousness in this blog,
then comes the Obama Admin and excuses, reason, rainbows, unicorns, hands across America......... This article about Pelosi was sent to the site bloggers on March mention of the parallel.
Not that our struggle matters if you are on the right or left, but could there be some denial from certian bloggers over the left pulling a classic bait and switch? Yes I know the right does it as well.


aahpat's claim about challenging Holder, etc

He says "And we will never really know what Holder means since I am the only person on the planet to really try to challenge him about it."
How can he possibly know that?
There's room for many different approaches to ending this godforsaken war on selected drug users. Like aahpat, I have my own pet ideas for how it could best be done, but I'm as interested in hearing what other people have to say as I am in pushing my own ideas.

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