The federal government may no longer bust marijuana users and sellers who follow state laws, but that won’t affect decisions on the local level, according to David Gilbert, prosecutor for Calhoun County, Mich.
Gilbert paid little stock to Attorney General Eric Holder’s Friday announcement that federal law enforcement agents would not challenge individual states’ decisions to legalize marijuana. Holder referred specifically to Colorado and Washington, who both recently voted to allow the drug for recreational use.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, Gilbert stated, “All I do is follow the law. Marijuana is a controlled substance with the exception of medical marijuana. And I really have no idea what [Holder’s announcement] means.”
“I don’t think there will be much effect,” responded Gilbert. “He is not really saying anything. And we are going to enforce the law.”
He added, “They can if they want to step in. And whoever the attorney general is can change their minds.”
Although medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, officials are still actively fighting distribution. In June, the Southwest Michigan Enforcement Team (SWET) raided three suspected marijuana dispensaries in Springfield, a city in Calhoun County. Gilbert is still waiting on warrant requests from these raids.
While local prosecutors like Gilbert may see few changes following Holder’s announcement, other law enforcement agents have protested the decision to stop cracking down on marijuana.
A coalition of narcotics officers, sheriffs and police chiefs issued a joint statement to the attorney general, stating, “It is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations — whose members will be directly impacted — for meaningful input ahead of this important decision ... Simply ‘checking the box’ by alerting law enforcement officials right before a decision is announced is not enough and certainly does not show an understanding of the value the federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partnerships bring to the Department of Justice and the public safety discussion.”