Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took the position that he would enforce federal law on marijuana in states that have legalized it if he were president.

Well, he could try, like other presidents have tried before him, including President Obama. Yet despite all the millions spent on making the laws stick, last time we checked you can still light it up in states like Colorado, Washington, and California. It would be no different if Christie were in office.

For one, he would need the manpower, and the feds simply don’t have it. Without state cooperation, they can’t effectively enforce those laws. This is why noncompliance on the part of the states is so devastating to the feds; their laws have no teeth, and they can’t do a thing about it.

This is in spite of ramped-up efforts by the feds in recent years. In less than two terms, President Obama has also conducted more marijuana raids than his two predecessors, George Bush and Bill Clinton, combined, and since state first legalized medical marijuana, over 335 people have been charged with related-federal crimes.

In late 2013, just before Colorado’s new recreational marijuana law was set to go into effect, the feds conducted the largest marijuana raid in Colorado history, hitting more than a dozen dispensaries in the Denver metro area.

While this may have been intended as a demonstration of their strength, it was little more a distraction to hide the true extent of their vulnerability, according to Mike Maharrey, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center:

The feds just spent a vast amount of money and expended tremendous resources to disrupt that paltry 3 percent of currently-operating businesses. Americans for Safe Access calculates that a direct raid on a medical marijuana dispensary costs around $300,000 and investigative costs run about $12 million per raid. That means the DEA just spent roughly $3.6 million on the raids themselves – plus investigative costs! Even if we play generous and assume that all 12 raids fell within the same investigative umbrella, that still means the DEA just blew $15.6 million.

I can’t emphasize this enough: 3 percent. In one city. In one state.

You do the math.

Then there’s the small matter of public opinion. In 2013, a Gallup poll found that for the first time a clear majority of the country – 58 percent – said that pot should be legalized.

The fight over federal marijuana laws in states that have decriminalized it is over, done.  The feds may win a few battles, chalk up the minor victory here and there, but they lost the war, no matter who happens to be in the White House.

TJ Martinell

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