Denver prosecutors will no longer charge those 21 and older for carrying less than an ounce of marijuana, and will review current cases that fit under the language of a recently voter-approved state constitutional amendment. District Attorney Mitch Morrissey and City Attorney Doug Friednash made their decision a day after Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett made headlines when he announced his office will dismiss any pending cases that deal with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Senior administration officials acknowledged that they are wrestling with how to respond to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which directly violates federal drug law and is sparking a broad debate about the direction of U.S. drug policy. The most likely outcome will be that the Justice Department will prevent the laws from going into effect by announcing that federal law preempts the state initiatives, which would make marijuana legal for recreational use. But the White House and the Justice Department have not made a decision yet.
Colorado officials and marijuana advocates on Wednesday looked toward an imminent confrontation with the federal government one day after voters in the state endorsed a measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Gov. John Hickenlooper said he is trying to speak soon with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to learn how the Justice Department will respond to the legalization measure's passage. (See also: Colorado attorney general Suthers says he will respect marijuana measure)
Should marijuana be treated like alcohol? Or should it remain in the same legal category as heroin and the most dangerous drugs? Votes by Colorado and Washington to allow adult marijuana possession have prompted what could be a turning point in the nation's conflicted and confusing war on drugs. Both states are holding off on plans to regulate and tax the drug while waiting to see whether the Justice Department would assert federal authority over drug law. (See also: Marijuana prosecutions dropped in anticipation of legalization)
Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could undermine voter-approved initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in those states, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.
They're not talking about the landmark health care ruling. They're talking about last week's Arizona immigration ruling, in which the court reiterated a foundation of American law - that states can't buck the federal government. "Arizona may have understandable frustrations" with federal inaction on immigration, the justices wrote, "but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
Former Drug Enforcement Agency administrators and directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy voiced a strong reminder to the U.S. Department of Justice that even if voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington pass ballot measures to legalize marijuana use for adults and tax its sale, the legalization of marijuana still violates federal law and the passage of these measures could trigger a "Constitutional showdown."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday, but came away no further enlightened about how the federal government will respond to last fall's votes in Washington and Colorado that set up legal markets for marijuana. Ferguson said his message to the Justice Department was that the state hopes to avoid a legal fight, but that his office has a team of lawyers preparing just in case.
While it seems unlikely that the federal government will make much of an effort to arrest pot users in Colorado or Washington—Obama has said he has “bigger fish to fry”— the tension between federal and state laws on marijuana remains. Just last week, an appeals court rejected a suit that sought to lower the classification of medical marijuana under federal drug laws. Justice Louis Brandeis once said that the states should function as “laboratories,” testing new ideas for possible adoption by the whole nation.
A top Justice Department official has told "60 Minutes" the federal government is ready to combat any "dangers" of state-sanctioned recreational pot, amid criticism of the Obama administration for its relative silence on legalization drives in three states. Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon are set to vote on November 6 on whether to legalize and tax marijuana sales, raising the possibility of a showdown with the federal government, which views pot as illegal.
The cry of "states' rights" is not often associated with progressive causes, but with the "war on drugs" comprehensively declared a $1tn failure by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the call has reason and justice on its side. Will the feds carry their fight against the voices expressing popular will from California to Colorado, Washington State and beyond? Or will the White House temper its approach with respect for local democracy?
Michael Weissenstein, E. Eduardo Castillo (Associated Press)
07 November 2012
The legalization of recreational marijuana in the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado will force Mexico to rethink its efforts to halt marijuana smuggling across the border, the main adviser to Mexico's president-elect said. Luis Videgaray, head of incoming President Enrique Pena Nieto's transition team, told Radio Formula that the Mexican administration taking power in three weeks remains opposed to drug legalization.
A group of Latin American leaders declared that votes by two U.S. states to legalize marijuana have important implications for efforts to quash drug smuggling, offering the first government reaction from a region increasingly frustrated with the U.S.-backed war on drugs. The declaration by the leaders of Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Costa Rica did not explicitly say they were considering weakening their governments' efforts against marijuana smuggling, but it strongly implied the votes last week in Colorado and Washington would make enforcement of marijuana bans more difficult.
Ending the consumption and the trafficking of illegal drugs is “impossible”, according to Felipe Calderón, Mexico’s outgoing president. In an interview with The Economist Mr Calderón, whose battle with organised crime has come to define his six years in office, said that countries whose citizens consume drugs should find "market mechanisms" to prevent their money from getting into the hands of criminals in Latin America.
Faced with this soiled wedge between state legislation and federal law within the United States, Mexico's President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto and his advisors have already concluded there will have to be a significant change in their anti-narcotics policy. Weeding out the marijuana issue was prudently left to behind closed door discussions.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon says the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in two U.S. states limits that country's "moral authority" to ask other nations to combat or restrict illegal drug trafficking. Calderon says the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado represents a fundamental change that requires the rethinking of public policy in the entire Western Hemisphere.
Like a growing number of Latin American leaders, Peña, who takes office Dec. 1, says it may be time to reassess the drug war. In an interview with TIME, Peña has made his first direct remarks on the U.S. marijuana-legalization measures and how they complicate a four-decade-old drug interdiction strategy that has been widely branded a failure in both Mexico and the U.S.
A leftist Mexican lawmaker on Thursday presented a bill to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana, adding to a growing chorus of Latin American politicians who are rejecting the prohibitionist policies of the United States. The bill is unlikely to win much support in Congress since a strong majority of Mexicans are firmly against legalizing drugs, but may spur a broader debate in Mexico after two U.S. states voted to allow recreational use of marijuana last week.
The legalisation of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, which will allow the drug to be taxed and regulated, in two U.S. states will prompt debate on anti-drug policies in Mexico as well, and on the coordination of strategies between the two countries, experts say. “The least bad option is legalisation,” Jorge Chabat, at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), told IPS. “It will have an impact on the way prohibition is designed, because there will be a cascade effect, and we’ll see changes very soon.”
What two American states, Washington and Colorado, have decided to do - legalize recreational use of marijuana - was the norm in India until 1985. All cannabis derivatives - marijuana (grass or ganja), hashish (charas) and bhang - were legally sold in this country. As a matter of fact, most state governments had their own retail shops to sell these drugs. India has known, consumed and celebrated ganja, charas and bhang for millennia. (See also: Recreational use of marijuana: Of highs and laws)