Friday, March 20, 2009

Dispensary raids likely to end

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder has announced that the feds will quit raiding dispensaries and medical grows in states with medical marijuana laws. Naturally, the Register noted that he hedged it just a bit, and called for taking marijuana off Schedule I so doctors can prescribe it countrywide -- a step or two ahead of just about everybody else, of course. If I had my druthers, marijuana would have the same legal status as, say, parsley, but I wouldn't be too displeased if they decided to regulate it similarly to alcohol, which of course is much riskier, as Tom Ammiano has suggested in California. But I'll take what we can get. I still think Holder might have an inner drug warrior, so it's worth keeping an eye on him.

I note that Cato emphasized that this decision respects federalism. That's an aspect many still misunderstand. One news story said federal law "supersedes" state law, which just isn't so. I was at the Supreme Court when they argued the Oakland case, and Justice Ginsburg asked the government attorney why the doctrine of federal supremacy was not being invoked. She replied that this was simply one of many cases where state laws and federal laws are different, and law enforcement at each level is bound to enforce the laws of the jurisdictions to which they are sworn. (I would contend that if they took the oath to the constitution federal agents wouldn't enforce federal laws, which are unconstitutional, but I wouldn't depend on any current court -- well, maybe certain panels on the 9th Circuit -- to go along with me on that.)

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