What do our servants in the federal government do when the voters have spoken? They promptly announce their intention to ignore the voters. At least, that’s what happens when it comes to the marijuana laws.
The citizens of Colorado and Washington may have thought the decision was theirs on whether to legalize cannabis — that they’d have the final say in the matter. But a spokesperson for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has other ideas.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” an agency spokesperson blithely told Reason this morning, Mike Riggs reports.
“In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance,” the federal spokesperson said. “The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives and we have no additional comment at this time.
Last month, Deputy Attorney General James Cole hinted at what the Obama Administration’s response might be to state voters legalizing marijuana.
“Each case is going to rise and fall on its own unique facts,” Cole told 60 Minutes. “Any of that is still in violation of the Controlled Substances Act of the federal law.
“We’re not interested in bothering people who are sick and are using it in the recommendation of a doctor,” Cole said. “We are concerned with people who are using it as a pretext to become large-scale drug dealers.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opposed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in his state. “The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” Gov. Hickenlooper said Tuesday night.
“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through,” Hickenlooper said.k “That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, within the context line-item vetoing most of a bill passed by the Legislature which would have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in her state, last year cited nebulous concerns about federal prosecution of state employees.