In a letter to former heads of the Drug Enforcement Agency on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. will enforce federal law prohibiting recreational marijuana use and production, regardless of whether Californians legalize the drug through Proposition 19.

The DEA chiefs had called on the Obama administration to sue California if the measure passes.

From AP:

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” Holder wrote.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-19 group, called Holder’s statement “political posturing.”

Also today, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley said they would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws even if Proposition 19 passed.

Two days ago, the RAND Corporation released a study on the effect that California’s legalization of marijuana would have on Mexican drug cartels, which have engaged in a frightening level of violence over the past few years.

Key study highlights here, including these:

The only way that legalizing marijuana in California could significantly influence DTO revenues and the related violence is if California-produced marijuana were smuggled to other states at prices that outcompete current Mexican supplies. In this scenario, legalizing marijuana in California could undercut sales of Mexican marijuana in much of the nation, cutting DTOs’ marijuana export revenues by more than 65 percent and probably by 85 percent or more. As such, Mexican DTOs would lose approximately 20 percent of their total drug export revenues.

It is unclear whether reductions in Mexican DTOs’ revenues from exporting marijuana would lead to corresponding decreases in violence. Some mechanisms suggest that large reductions in revenues could increase violence in the short run and decrease it in the long run.


Attorney General Just Says No 16 October,2010Jon Brooks

  • Matthew Maurice

    Can the lawyers out there say if a California Peace Officer can enforce a Federal law when a California Code contradicts it? Barring some kind of injunction or stay or whatever the JDs call it when a law is put on a “time-out.” And are Baca and Cooley busting the Medical Marijuana clubs in LA county now? If not what would be the difference if Prop. 19 passes?

  • Dan Brekke

    I’m a journalist, not a lawyer, but let me venture an opinion that should not be construed as legal advice: Federal law enforcement agencies enforce federal statutes, our California law enforcement agencies enforce California and local statutes. Period. So, can a California peace officer enforce a federal law. Not really — they simply wouldn’t be assigned to do that. What Holder is talking about is putting the FBI, the DEA, and the U.S. attorneys on the case.

    And yes, Los Angeles authorities are in fact cracking down on some medical cannabis operations. That appears to be a reaction to a free-for-all in the city of Los Angeles, which has permitted hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries. The enforcement effort is said to target operations that are in fact simply commercial trafficking points for pot.

  • Tyranny Sucks

    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!


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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