LOS ANGELES. — The new federal marijuana policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Thursday will do little to maintain the federal government’s unconstitutional cannabis prohibition.
In a one-page memo, Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole Memo and directed federal prosecutors in states with legal marijuana to decide how aggressively they want to prosecute federal law based on their own judgment.
While many people called this a “seismic shift” in policy, Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said it will have almost no practical effect.
“The federal government doesn’t have the personnel or resources to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where cannabis is legal – no matter what Jeff Sessions wants.”
Figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the medical dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. This doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By ending state enforcement of any federal prohibition that is legal under state law, states like Oregon, Colorado and California have swept away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests in these states.
“Without state cooperation and support, the feds are essentially impotent when it comes to enforcing its unconstitutional marijuana prohibition,” Maharrey said. “When it comes right down to it, this new policy will be nothing new. It’s just a bunch of wind blowing out of the AG’s office.”
The federal government lacks any constitutional authority to regulate a plant. As Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin has pointed out, it took a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no practical difference between alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and marijuana prohibition today.
“In our view, Sessions represents a strain of conservatism which is as much at odds with the Constitution as the Nancy Pelosi end of the spectrum. They have the same approach – disregard or follow it based on their personal political goals.”
Contact: Michael Maharrey