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Even if Prop. 19 passes, federal drug laws will be 'vigorously' enforced, official says

Holder The nation's top federal law enforcement official said the Obama administration would "vigorously enforce" drug laws against people who grow, distribute or sell marijuana for recreational use even if California voters pass a measure to legalize it.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., in a letter sent Wednesday to nine former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, wrote, "Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19. If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens."

The initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot would allow Californians 21 and older to grow up to 25 square feet and possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It also allows cities and counties to authorize cultivation and sales. Several cities, including Oakland, appear poised to do so if the law passes.

Campaign contributions: Who has given for and against Prop. 19? 

Holder's letter was made public Friday. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is hosting a news conference at his headquarters Friday morning to draw attention to the letter.

Possession and sales of marijuana are illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. In his letter, Holder wrote: "We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

Dale Sky Jones, a spokeswoman for the Prop. 19 campaign, said the federal government is continuing to enforce "a failed policy."

"We're not necessarily surprised that the establishment is coming down on the side of the status quo. ... If the federal government is going to disregard the voters, this is a states' right issue."

President Obama has said that he is opposed to legalizing marijuana, but his administration has ended prosecutions of medical marijuana collectives and patients that abide by state laws, in effect ignoring the Controlled Substances Act. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration targeted the state's dispensaries and collectives for years. They have continued to bust large-scale growers.

The administration has come under criticism from the initiative's opponents for not doing enough to try to defeat it. Last week, Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, chided the Obama administration. The nation's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has spoken out about the initiative and said there is no doubt about where the administration's stands. On Thursday, his office issued a news release highlighting a survey released a month ago that showed teens are starting to use marijuana at an earlier age, 17 years old in 2009 as opposed to 17.8 years old in 2008.

Californians are split on the issue. Polls have consistently shown that marijuana legalization is supported by about half of the state's electorate.

-- John Hoeffel

Photo: U.S. Atty. General Eric H. Holder Jr. speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Credit: Getty Images

Click to learn more about the debate about marijuana legalization Read more:

Proposition 19: California's marijuana legalization debate


Comments () | Archives (406)

Drug laws are the real detriment to citizens in America. They precipitate drug cartels, trafficking, drug related violence, trillions of wasted dollars on a failed drug policy, and drug use has only gone up precisely by the implementation of these laws. We put innocent young adults in jail for decades just for the simple possession of a few plants. Marijuana doesn't harm people, the laws restricting them do.

With drugs illegal, this creates a market for drug dealers in the first place. Drug dealers biggest fear is the legalization of these drugs. Marijuana prohibition has cost many lives in the police force against it's use, whereas simply letting people smoke has not taken one life. Police chiefs are starting to speak out against this atrocity against the public. They realize that crime has gone up since prohibition, not down. Police forces are wasting time and money on arresting young potheads, good innocent kids, and not focusing on stopping the violent crimes which are getting less attention because of the excessive preoccupation of arresting drug users and dealers. Police have used children charged with drug possession to rat out dealers, by setting them up with microphones and sent into a false drug deal with cops waiting outside, putting these kids in harms way, and some have died because the drug dealers knew it was a set up and shot the nark. This has been ignored. This is the true crime.

Portugal decriminalized all recreational drugs in their country. It is perfectly legal to smoke pot or snort coke there. Since the implementation of their new drug laws, drug use has decreased dramatically, and most importantly, so has crime. The same goes for the Netherlands and other countries with similar laws. It's time to not say no drugs, but no to drug laws. If we want drug violence to stop, drug use to go down, to get rid of drug dealers in your neighborhood, spending on wasted taxes to go down, then we need to reconsider the effectiveness of the drug war.

My mothers people have using marijuana in ceremonies and poultices and teas on what are now reservations long before the Europeans arrived on this continent. Does this administration plan to go after them also ?

And in related news, the heads of the Mexican drug carteles send Holder a couple of bottles of Añejo Tequila to thank him for his efforts on their behalf. For a minute there they thought they were going to have to close shop.

My concerns for 19 are not moralistic.
I fear unintended consequences.

Good. Enforce it.

I'm not sure I want to see a population of intoxicated losers walking around adding more carcinogenic into the already choking environment. I already have to deal with it when I have my windows rolled down and I catch the smoker somewhere in front of me puffing out his/her second hand cancer in traffic.

Unbelievable that people in a time when we should be moving forward, progressing all we're worried or concerned with is weed. Please. Bunch of potheads.

stupid progressives...why are you surprised ? Progressives started the FDA, the prohibition on booze, illigalized pot, and generally want to control every aspect of your life ..dopes...read up on history and realize you are being used by central planning big government control freaks

I really don't care if it passes or not. I'm not tokin' and my kid's not tokin'. I know for a fact, if you want to buy pot, you can buy pot, 24/7. I don't read a lot of articles saying "Guy High on Pot Kills Family of Four on the San Diego Freeway," so I'm assuming it's not contributing to the killing field that is our public highways. And I've worked with dozens and dozens of tokers over the years and never noticed that their work performance suffered much.

What I do know is that gangs and others who deal in drugs are killing each other and anyone else who gets in the way in record numbers. And our law enforcement and courts are so bogged down trying to make an unenforceable ban work that they can't get no wire strung on the real problems either. Meanwhile, our state is going broke while we jump up and down about this issue. And I frankly don't care what the other states do.

Pity. I’m old and tired now, and sick of the debate. My arthritis is killing me, and they say good ole MJ is great for that. I was hoping to grow some of my own so I don’t have to pay megabucks on all these GD drugs the doctors keep giving to kill the pain. Then I could sit in my chair and rock out and knit in relative peace and comfort. But I fear the afghan I produce might end up the size of Maine.

17 days and counting--OOOO looook ooout-THE CHANGE is about to happen.
From the desks of
David Seber and William Conde
The original

We hereby declare that the earth’s entire ecology, market, and politics be consciously manipulated through the wide spread application and use of the plant cannabis sativa. That all agricultural and forest management techniques that have lead to the damaging of the environment through the use of toxic chemicals and gross harvesting processes be immediately ended and substituted in their place nontoxic, easily renewable, hemp based industries. These industries will simultaneously renew the local and international economies of all countries while allowing their respective environments and ecologies to rebound and reharmonize them selves with the planetary nature.

What More Can You Ask For
This Is It

Seems like the Feds are still afraid of forward-thinking people making their god-given right to choose. Marijuana was put here by our creator, and it is a gift to us.

When I say "us" I mean ALL Mankind.
It is barbaric that in this day and age a law can still decide for you what you should be putting in your won body (that belongs to you) and as far as I'm concerned keeping it illegal means the cartels still make their blood money from it.
If we all grew indoors (which we'll do ANYWAY) it would undermine the cartel's profits significantly. If it were legalized it could help California's money problems....but I guess old-fashioned fuddy-duddies in the Fed will still be making their (archaic) laws, so we'll just have to grow indoors with hard-to-detect L.E.D. lamps, and break the law some more. You aren't going to stop the weed that easily. People KNOW it's good, people KNOW it is a superior pain-control drug without the harsh side effects like opiates...people KNOW this whole thing is ridiculous and should have passed a long time ago.

We are holding back our species with laws like this.
I hope we'll evolve and change our cannabis policies on the federal level...
But I doubt that will ever happen. The Fed has a long, famous record of passing the buck and bowing to big money interests and corruption, greed, etc.
We all KNOW the fed isn't capable of getting something done or even finding something necessary to get done. They take their time and let things get real bad first, then they'll use that as their excuse to keep it illegal.
Meanwhile people in pain have to listen to the back-and-forth crud from BOTH sides. Meanwhile, we'll still smoke it, grow it, sell it, etc. and there is nothing the biggest armies in the world can do about it.....it is a WEED. You can't tax a weed, you can't control a weed, you can't defeat a weed. That's why the midwest is still full of wild marijuana plants from the 1920's hemp plantations.
She just wants to grow, anyhow.
How about that? :)

Dont they have bigger things to worry about like cocaine smuggling, human trafficking, terrorist threats, the economy, so on? No matter what happens they just have to piss in the face of citizens who vote a proposition into law just to prove a point that they are still running this country and they can do whatever they want to us no matter how pointless the situation is, they are still going to spend money in those raids, rather then spend that money on something thats more productive.... God bless america home of the corrupt, and greedy!

Obama and Holder are simply round healed prostitutes trying to take advantage of a perceived political opportunity. It is done out of fear and desperation. Do you remember, during the election, when Obama admitted, almost laughingly, that he had smoked marijuana? Do you remember him saying that the “War on Drugs” was a failed policy? He will not be re-elected because, at heart, he is a coward and opportunist.

It is the people who have a negative, knee jerk reaction to Proposition 19, who are mindlessly against it because “that’s how I feel” that I really loathe. These are the same pathetic parasites that wring their hands and say "Oh where, Oh where did my Dear America go?" They wish for perpetual reruns of "Leave It to Beaver", curse the decade of the 60s and wish for the “Lost Innocence” of another time. My contempt for these witless cretins knows no bounds. They have no concept of individual liberties and no notion of a solution to the drug problem other than to do more of the same. They cannot free themselves from the prison of the frames (George Lakoff) in their minds. They are always the first to whine about a problem and the last to offer any type of constructive solution.

First and foremost, marijuana is simply not worth the effort that has been expended to prohibit it. We have spent far too much of our national treasure and ruined far too many lives to continue further along on this failed path we are on.

When marijuana ever becomes legal, the American people will finally know the truth about how the government has lied to us about how harmless it actually is. The United States first illegalized marijuana because the government did not want Mexican-American subculture to spread in the 1930's; they believed that the prime cause of subculture spread was marijuana use. There were no issues revolving health.

Pharmaceutical companies don't want it legalized because marijuana treats many conditions. Instead they would rather sale the American people drugs that contain the same form of chemical that is found in marijuana and instead of getting it from the plant itself they make an artificial type. The "unnatural medicines" end up killing thousands of Americans when thhey could have just treated it with a "natural" herb(marijuana.) That would ruin their profits because people would just grow it for their own consumption. Marijuana would actually be very inexpensive treatment and much safer than prescription medications.

We are spending a majority of the money from the "war on drugs" fighting a natural herb that is less harmful than coffee or aspirin. What a waste! We should fight drugs that are harmful like cocaine, meth, etc. There are over 430,000 deaths caused by smoking cigarettes, over 80,000 from drinking alcohol. No deaths have been directly attributed to the use of marijuana.

So, why is it still illegal? Oh, wait! I know! The politicians don't want to be seen as "changing their mind" when it comes to a law. Pride and the dishonest propaganda the government has spread is the reason why marijuana is still illegal.

By the way, most politicians have tried it, look who we elected in office? We should illegalize alcohol again and cigarettes because they kill so many of us; they are drugs also. It is very hypocritical.

Take a chill pill people. Holder is a politician as is his boss, the president. Holder isn't saying this because he and the Administration actually intend to come down hard on California with DEA raids if Proposition 19 passes. This statement is being made to protect the rear end of the Administration. The Administration just got finished slamming Arizona over the immigration law signed by the Arizona governor. Now here comes California considering a pot proposition. If the Administration remained silent about the pot proposition after making a hullabaloo regarding Arizona's immigration legislation conservatives would use that storyline to their advantage in the upcoming elections. This is pure political posturing, nothing else.

Why would Californians or anyone else with common sense and a conscience for that matter want to be associated in any way with the U.S. or its federal government? Californians it's time to ask yourselves that. Any so-called Justice Department that says it's "moving forward, not looking backward" in other words that it will not be attempting to prosecute the war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice for launching a war of aggression and for torturing people, but decides that it IS going to go after somebody's grandmother in California who decides to smoke pot in her own home is insanely corrupt beyond any hope of reform and is transparently acting as the puppet of the big business ruling elite that owns this turd of a country lock, stock and barrel.

We see what is truly important to the garbage that runs the American elite's government. Not ending the country's wars for energy resource dominance, er, sorry, "War on Terror" that "just happens" to have every single theater in the war revolving around oil and/or natural gas resources. Not bringing the country's war criminals and mass murderers from the previous administration to justice. Not changing the minimum wage laws to mandate an actual (gasp!) LIVING wage for the country's workers (as nobody anywhere in the U.S., not even in Alabama, can afford to live on $7.25/hour, this is beyond debate.) Not allowing gay folks the basic civil RIGHT of being able to get married. Not abolishing the death penalty, a sure mark of a barbaric, backwards and uneducated society. Not trying to save the environment by using what leverage they formerly had when G.M. and Chrysler needed bailouts by mandating that to get the bailout money they had to be making nothing but practical, plug-in electric cars by 2011, instead they threw money at them in a deal built on the backs of the United Auto Workers. Not trying to change the one-sided business-coddling labor laws and allow workers to much more easily get union representation with the E.F.C.A. Nope, none of that matters to the alleged "change" administration. What matters, obviously, is to be "tough on drugs" and send D.E.A. fascist pigs to California to arrest someone for growing a few pot plants in his backyard or to arrest someone for having a dime bag of pot in their pocket. Screw you Eric Holder, screw you Barack O'Bilderberg and screw you United States of America. This country is garbage. Californians, if you care about individual liberty it's long overdue that you get your passports and move to Canada, a country that, although not perfect, is a lot closer to being a civilized nation.

Or alternatively, it's time for California's state government to stand up to these tyrants in Washington, mobilize the state's National Guard units and tell the Washington satraps that to enforce their reefer madness they will have to go through the California National Guard. Enough already. California is way too good to have anything remotely to do with a failing, backwards, undemocratic, soon-to-be-third-world country like America. Bar the D.E.A. from the state, tell the Navy it can move its bases in San Diego and Mare Island elsewhere, pull troops from California out of Iraq and Afghanistan and withdraw the state from the union. Let America sink into the landfill of history where it belongs and let California become what America always claimed to be but never lived up to. Long live the Bear Flag Republic!

"We will [remain ignorant in our drug policy and oppress any person or business] that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law [because we disagree with this and it is obvious that what us highly paid left wing Government officials believe is more important to enforce than what the citizens we are supposed to serve believe.]"

That's all I read in that quote

What in God's name is wrong with the US government. If prop 19 passes and the govt even tries to overturn it, there's gonna be trouble.

Stupid, stupid, stupid thing to say, dingbats! They just ensured that it will pass, LOL! As well it should. : )

In the words of the immortal Jim Morrison, "And it's all over, the war is over!!!"

It would cost more than the war in Iraq to get all the weed out of California.

"vigorously enforce" ???? Oh Please Mr. Holder....
We REEEEEALLLLY need to have a NEW conversation about who REALLY is a threat. Have you seen the murder rate in California lately?? More shootings going on than the old west. HOW ABOUT ACTUALLY DOING YOUR JOB DUDE!

MOST of the arrests made for minor possesion are a waste of the taxpayer, county, state, AND the SELF RIGHTEOUS FEDERAL GOVERNMENTs time!!...and the OCCASIONAL drug cartel, major dealer are the ones you should worry about...LEAVE THE COMMON MAN ALONE YOU OBSESSIVE COP!!!

You should WANT people high anyway. Ever met somebody who is stoned?? They're not exactly a threat! You may even consider USING POT INSTEAD OF TASERS TO MELLOW OUT your angriest criminals.

"greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts"
Aaaahhhh the truth comes out...It's easier to avoid the legal rollercoaster than ACTUALLY passing GOOD legislation right?? Well try THROWING OUT the law and starting over you moron. As usual FED OFFICIALS ON A POWER TRIP....Why not try smoking a few tokes sometime man

Big Deal, he wants to arrest everyone. Send in the storm troopers. Now, will he try to arrest all those who vote yes on 19? At some point you have to laugh at these corrupt bozos.
It's a full blown movement and they just don't know what to do. More bluster, more threats. Yes on 19! Yes on States Rights!

Public servants employed by local and state government agencies must abide first by state laws and then federal laws. Baca would be committing a crime to go against a law that is approved by California voters. Is this guy some kind of scofflaw nutjob?

That's all Cali needs is the legalization of a drug. I lived there for 2 years and couldn't wait to get out. That place of full of drug addicts. That's all they need is more enabling and encouragement to get high. At least it will keep the reality tv fad going strong!

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. - What a powerfully shining example of why so many of us don't trust our Govt and law enforcement officials!!!

Thank the Gods that the people are all becoming more educated and refusing to buy into the lies that the prohibitionists have been spouting for 70+ years!!!

A secession would make sense, until the baby boomers are dead and we have a split union. It's time for the young to overcome the old!

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