Drug Law

AG Holder Wrong to Oppose Calif. Marijuana Prop 19

| by Marijuana Policy Project

Attorney General Holder is Wrong to Oppose California’s Marijuana Initiative

Proposition 19 Offers California Voters An Alternative to the Failed Policies of Marijuana Prohibition

According to the Associated Press, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter earlier this week to former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration in which he promised that the Justice Department would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws in California even if the state’s voters approve Proposition 19, which would make marijuana legal for all adults 21 and older and allow localities to tax and regulate marijuana’s sale.  

In response, Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, offered the following statement: “The truth is that the use of marijuana -- a substance far less harmful than alcohol or tobacco -- is widespread in this country and nothing the government can do will ever stop that. The only question is how we structure the market for marijuana so that it is best for society.

"Will we have marijuana sold in licensed, tax-paying and regulated stores or will we continue to have it sold in a completely unregulated market that makes it more available to teens? Will we impose standards so that purchasers know the quality and purity of the marijuana they are buying or will we keep it in a far less safe unregulated market? Will we have the profits from the sale of marijuana go to legitimate taxpaying American business owners or will they go to underground dealers and cartels who will pay no taxes and defend their interests through violence?"

Attorney General Holder is not looking out for the health and safety of the American people. He is nothing more than the lead advocate for a never-ending taxpayer-funded jobs program for law enforcement officials in this country.

If you look at the opposition to marijuana policy reform in this country, it is driven almost entirely by people whose jobs are dependent on arresting and prosecuting individuals for marijuana-related offenses. The only other prominent group is elected officials who ignorantly turn a blind eye to alcohol-fueled violence in our communities in order to pretend they are 'tough on crime' by going after marijuana users who simply want to enjoy a substance less harmful than alcohol in peace.

“If Attorney General Holder and the former heads of the DEA truly and sincerely cared about keeping our society safe from more dangerous drugs like cocaine, they would break the link between marijuana and harder drugs. Keeping marijuana in the illegal market does not reduce the use of harder drugs; it increases it by forcing teens and adults to purchase marijuana in the same 'stores' that sell those other drugs.

"This cannot be stated strongly enough: Supporters of marijuana prohibition in law enforcement, who know that alcohol use causes far more problems than marijuana use, are not motivated by concerns for public safety. They are motivated by a dangerous combination of arrogance, prejudice and self-interest. Law enforcement has lost all credibility on the subject of marijuana prohibition and it is time the American people start thinking for themselves on this issue.

“States are the laboratories of our democracy. California voters have an opportunity this November to choose an alternative to the failed policies of marijuana prohibition. Sadly, Attorney General Holder is trying to deny them that chance before the election even takes place.”