Today Attorney General Eric Holder gave the clearest indication so far that the Justice Department plans to respect state laws that permit the medical use of marijuana:The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law....Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that's inconsistent with federal and state law.
As medical marijuana activists noted, that still leaves unresolved the issue of what will happen to pending cases against people who provide cannabis to patients in states such as California. Thomas O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, has gone back and forth on that question. Charlie Lynch, who ran a medical marijuana dispensary in San Luis Obispo, is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday and could spend decades in federal prison.
It's telling that there's been no significant backlash against Obama's move to respect states' rights with respect to medical marijuana. I think this is evidence of the workability of a liberaltarian alliance. When the interests of liberals and libertarians overlap, it can be difficult for conservatives to offer an effective response.
But what's happening in this case could just be a result of there not being any good argument to be offered against allowing states to decide their own medical marijuana policy.
Just when I thought it looked like no major politicians were silly enough to speak out against Obama's change in DEA policy, the Republican senator from my own state steps up to the plate--from the Associated Press (via Slog):
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Obama administration's change in policy toward medical marijuana is a bad idea.
Grassley says the new policy outlined by Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday is counterproductive because marijuana leads to use of harder drugs.
Oh, Chuck, just when you were wooing me back with your suggestion that AIG executives ought to consider seppuku, you have to go and say something completely ridiculous. Well, that's the GOP way, I guess.