AG Holder to Seek More Federal Marijuana Possession Prosecutions

Attorney General Eric Holder sends more mixed messages on marijuana: Today in Mexico:

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.

He also promised to send 100 more ATF agents to the border.

And Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano promised Mexico more help in the drug war from the Coast Guard.

And the idea that the Obama Administration would be smarter, rather than just tough on crime? [More...]

Mr. Medina-Mora said Mexico and the United States were working on ways to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of smuggling and violent crimes, so that when there was a choice of jurisdiction, trials would be held in the country with the toughest applicable laws and penalties.

And from Napolitano:

“We are going to operate almost like a vise,” Ms. Napolitano said of the United States and Mexico, after the meeting with Mr. Calderón. “We’re going to take out the cartels that have been plaguing our communities for far too long.”

More failed policies from the past, doomed to repeat themselves.

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    Depressing. So wrong-headed (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by oldpro on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:41:01 PM EST
    it's almost beyond belief.

    Bye, bye, hopey changey.  Hello same old, same old.

    gee, could be wrong, (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:23:52 AM EST
    but it just seems that more prosecutions leads to more convictions leads to more prisoners leads to more prisons, etc.

    so this is helping us how, exactly?

    If we put 3/4 of our population in prison (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by Ben Masel on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:57:37 AM EST
    and hire the remaining 1/4 as guards, there'll be no unemployment, and the economy will recover.

    New mass movement (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by a giant slor on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:37:48 AM EST
    We need a new mass movement to press for marijuana legalization. Every supporter, whether they smoke it or not, needs to participate. Public opinion is turning and we need to make it loud and clear to our leaders as well as the general public.

    Did I read that right? (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Romberry on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:53:37 AM EST
    Holder wants more federal prosecutions of possession cases? For weed?

    he wants to lower the threshhold for (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:06:07 AM EST
    amounts of marijuana possession that are prosecuted in federal court, which would lead to more marijuana possession prosecutions in federal court.

    When I wake up later today... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Romberry on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:55:53 AM EST
    ...I'm gonna find out that this news was all just part of a bad dream. The economy will be fine. Possession of marijuana won't be reason for putting anyone in the federal pen. The Iraq War will not have happened. The World Trade Center will be standing. And Howard Dean will have just entered his third month in office, having succeeded two term president Al Gore.

    I'm going to assume (none / 0) (#12)
    by Bemused on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:08:42 AM EST
     he intended to say he was looking for ways to lower the threshold for federal prosecution of marijuana trafficking which includes possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and not that he wants the Feds to begin prosecuting simple possession cases. I note that portion of the Times article was not a direct quote of Holder.

      Even with that assumption, it's a poorly considered approach -- even if one does not favor legalization of marijana.

      I'm also puzzled as by what he means he will search for ways to do this. Federal law already allows for the prosecution  of marijuana trafficking at any level (21 U.S.C. § 841), and, even simple possession (§ 844).

      As Attorney General he should know without searching that he has the power to issue policy directives instructing law enforcement agencies under his bailiwick and the United States Attorneys to enforce these laws differently than they have in the past and to redirect funding priorities to see that the directive is carried out (unless Congress were to specifically prohibit such spending).

       Why on Earth would the AG believe that it would be a better use of manpower and money to go after lower level marijuana cases? Good question and one I can't answer. I'll assume his intent is not to build a case for the futility and wrongheadedness of this approach to provide ammunition for legalization advocates by furnishing concrete examples. My only guess is that he is being told by the more rabid elements of DEA that it could use the permission  to prosecute low level offenders federally to coerce them into providing assistance against higher-ups and work its way up distribution chains in that way.

      I find it hard to believe though that even many in the DEA believe that the best method of bringing down the big players in the USA, let alone in Mexico, is to begin targeting the people hustling a few pounds of weed.


    What is wrong with us? (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:11:13 AM EST
    are we as dumb as some on HuffPo, D-K, etc?

    Everything that Obama is doing, and now Holder, was telegraphed to us from the get-go.

    Don't tell me we at TL were among those saying, yes, but when he gets in office.........

    no, we weren't (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:18:22 AM EST
    but I also don't see the need to keep repeating "told you so."

    I didn't think (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 04:55:20 AM EST
    I did that, and if you read it that way, obviously
    I should have considered my words more carefully.

    However, I can't tell you how gut-sad I am watching the cynic in me apparently having been correct. Being a city guy, I saw him as another city guy. He was smooth, he was tough, he was good. And while I supported Hillary, once Obama won, I got no choice, I gotta put every bit of the 30% chance I was wrong, into hoping, wishing, and praying I was wrong.

    But, when you marshal the full weight and power of the Federal Government, and sic them on  the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, this city boy can't just shrug his shoulders, and say, "Gee, too bad."

    I gotta tell you, I get mad. And when my mind's eye flashes in split-screen, on the left, the overwhelming support he got from AA'S, and on the right, our prisons, human dignity killing fields, and not so ironically, one of the very few industries flourishing during this recession, I gotta admit, what I feel towards Obama and Holder can't be printed here.

    Certainly, we'll all suffer, but as always, minorities will suffer disproportionally more.

    I'm sorry for the "I told you so" comment, but I was thinking for the future, not the past. I, at least, will look at President Obama now as preening for the rich & powerful, while tolerating the rest. No more wishing and hoping. Now he'll actually have to do something, but,I won't be holding my breath any more.

    Trillions for the masters, a snap of the whip for the rest.  


    did Obama (none / 0) (#14)
    by Bemused on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:51:47 AM EST
     really telegraph that he would push DOJ to take a harder line on low-level  marijuana prosecution than  taken in many years, arguably all the way backto the Nixon Administration?

      I'll agree that nothing he ever said struck me as favoring a gentler approach, let alone legalization, but I don't remember anything he said or published suggesting he believed in ramping up against low level pot dealers.


    I think he telegraphed everything in his (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by cpa1 on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 09:10:47 AM EST
    interview with the Reno-Gazette in January of 2008.  Too bad many of our friends on the progressive side of the Democratic Party were too busy to spend 40 minutes to listen to it.  He was arrogant, he was delusional, he propped up Reagan and dismissed Clinton and all of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s.

    Here on Talk Left we saw what Obama was but the idiots on the DailyKos, who were too stupid to think rationally, supported him and went after anyone who didn't.  They did the same thing with Kerry, trying to kill any criticism that might have ultimately made him a better candidate.  They think they are pure but the are is just shallow, inexperienced, clueless about the economy and stupid.

    I think a president needs some arrogance to carry himself or herself in a confident and believable way.  Today I am not sure if Obama was a good thing or not.  The one thing that gives me confidence is that he absolutely adores what he is doing, besides being very bright and willing to tackle the concepts that take more than a sound bite.  


    My not being (none / 0) (#18)
    by Bemused on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 09:14:13 AM EST
     a reader of the Reno Gazette, could you elaborate about what he said that caused you to belive he would endorse ramping un federal enforcement against low level pot dealers?

    no name-calling please (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:46:06 AM EST
    comment deleted.

    i am kind of curious, (4.00 / 3) (#11)
    by cpinva on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 05:14:18 AM EST
    is mr. holder just really, really stupid, or does he just play a stupid person on tv?

    Where's my bong... (none / 0) (#13)
    by JoeCHI on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:22:07 AM EST
    ...this is p*ssing me off!

    What a disaster this Holder cat is.... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:27:07 AM EST
    I guess prosecutors are like old dogs, and some new tricks are out of the question.

    Just makes you wish you could sit down and smoke some sense into 'em:)  We, the users, ain't the problem...it's the prohibitors and the gangsters the prohibitors create.

    And starting to wonder if this new drug war focus is a diversion from the treasury cash give-away thats been going down....pay no attention to that bank we're giving untold sums to, the Mexicans are running dope! The Mexicans are running dope!  Remember the Alamo!

    this is more generally directed (none / 0) (#16)
    by Bemused on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:44:18 AM EST
     than to this one issue, but it is beginning to seem that in attempting to simulataneously appease if not please almost everyone (except those way removed from the mainstream) in one way or another, Obama is displeasing almost everyone in one way or another and in ways more important to many people than the ways in which he is pleasing them.

      For example, are the social conservatives and law and order types going to drop  grievances which many of them have concerning expansion of federal power and the "welfare state" because he appeases on drug enforcement and the role of religion? Doubtful.

       Are people who desire federal expansion, universal health care  and the safety-net, etc. going to be any more pleased with corporate welfare and  expansion of the prison-state?

      Politically speaking, Obama seems to be charting a very risky course. He appears to believe he can succeed politically without a core base simply by being able to show his policies worked. That might not even be true if most of his policies do "work" and if they don't, to whom does the then turn?

      He probably believes in his heart that he can succeed by being the lesser evil to a large number of people arguing that anyone with critics on both sides must be doing it right and apealing to the non-ideological pragmatic majority. We shall see.  He might be right about the majority being non-ideological and pragmatic but can you succeed politically that way when an awful lot of that majority is also not very politically active?  


    The just-us club! (none / 0) (#21)
    by runruff on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:50:04 AM EST
    Holder is a prosecutor, prosecutors are the lowest of humans because they are more interested in self advancement than they are in justice. In fact justice is just a vehicle for them to further their own interest. If you have personally had any dealing with federal court you will know, as I found, out that the whole system is corrupt and stinks like rotten fish. Not even President Obama could fix this voracious monster as it devours lives and public resources. The smartest crooks in the world are running the criminal justice system!

    The worst of these are at the very top. The Fab Four and the other five that make up the SCOTUS.

    The corruption runs so deep in the DoJ that I don't have much hope of seeing real justice in my lifetime!  

    Mixed messages (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mikeb302000 on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:09:43 PM EST
    Mixed messages are just that - mixed.  It's still too early to tell how it'll all play out. I'm still hopeful.

    April fools (none / 0) (#23)
    by Left of center on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:59:09 PM EST
    I guess it's a bit too late for this article to be an April fools day joke.

    I'm surprised and disappointed. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 04:17:29 PM EST
    Why go after this? What a waste of time and resources. And a distraction from so many other things that demand our full attention.

    Disappointed (none / 0) (#25)
    by discouraged carol on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 11:51:08 PM EST
    There actually is a video of Barack Obama saying he favored decriminalization of cannabis some time ago.  This was part of the reason I gave my vote and my support to him during the election.

    I do think it's a big ugly deal to arrest and imprison people for cannabis possession. Civil rights and social justice are not trivial matters.

    Unfortunately this is consistent with signals from other parts of this administration, as well as AG Eric Holder's past actions.