Marijuana law turns to reason

SUBHEAD: Police groups furiously protest Eric Holder's marijuana policy announcement not to pursue state sanctioned recreational use of marijuana.

By Staff on 5 August 2013 in The Last Marijuana Trial - 

Image above: Roger Christie in happier days before being incarcerated without trial for three years at the request of ObamaJustice Department. From (

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi ruled that imprisoned Cannabis Minister, Rev. Roger Christie, can present a religious defense at trial.

The court ruled as a matter of law that Christie’s religion is legitimate, his belief is sincere, and that the government’s action was a substantial burden on the legitimate exercise of his religion.

The ruling establishes that the prosecution must now prove at a hearing that Christie’s arrest and incarceration was the least restrictive means of upholding the law — and that the federal government had a compelling interest in prosecuting him.

The Court has yet to rule on Christie’s recent RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) motion. If she grants the motion, the case against Christie will be dismissed. If she does not grant the motion, Christie will still be able to present a religious defense at trial as to the element of the intent to distribute.

Christie has been held in detention without bail at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center since his arrest by federal authorities on July 8, 2010. He is charged with distributing marijuana to his parishioners.

Comment by Vicki:
 The case of Roger Christie will go down in history as one of the most egregious abrogations of a citizen’s Constitutional rights – ever. Murderers, rapists, psychopaths, even cannibals roam free on bail while the Reverend of a Church sits in a dungeon for the crime of seeking God with the help of the herb that He placed here to take care of most of our needs.

Cannabis nourishes our bodies and our souls, clothes us, inspires ideas and provides the paper to write them on, inspires music and the joy to dance to it, can be used as fuel, and is the most potent medicine available that can cure cancer and a myriad other ills, with no toxic side effects. No one has ever died from taking it.

Yet, these agents of our Federal Government whom we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars to keep us safe, have seen fit to deny him his Constitutional rights – the very rights that define us as a nation. The rights that once set this nation apart from those such as North Korea or China.

I ask you, who presents the greatest threat to our safety? Roger, or these misguided agents?

Justice Dept won't challenge States

By Phil Mattingly on 30 August 2013 for Bloomberg News

The U.S. won’t challenge laws in Colorado and Washington that legalized the recreational use of marijuana and will focus federal prosecutions on ties to criminal organizations, distribution to minors and transportation across state lines, the Justice Department said.

Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of the two states that U.S. attorneys will focus on certain priority areas and work with them to set rules for the marijuana industry.

The decision marks the first time the U.S. government has condoned recreational marijuana use and opens the door for other states to consider it. Voters in Washington and Colorado became the first to legalize it in November. Nineteen states allow medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In a memo to federal prosecutors around the country, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said that, beyond the priority areas, “the federal government has traditionally relied on states and local law enforcement agencies to address marijuana activity” under their own laws.

The new guidelines are “a major and historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition,” said Dan Riffle, federal policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“The next step is for Congress to act,” said Riffle, whose Washington-based group is the largest advocating legalization. “We need to fix our nation’s broken marijuana laws and not just continue to work around them.”

Growing, selling or possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Criminal Activity

The federal priorities include monitoring marijuana activities for ties to criminal organizations, distribution to minors and transportation across state lines. Prosecutors have also been instructed to focus on preventing state-authorized endeavors from being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs, violence in pot cultivation and driving under the influence of marijuana.

The government will also pursue cases where marijuana is grown on public lands or when it is carried on federal property, according to the Justice Department’s memo.

Officials in Washington and Colorado, as well as businesses associated with marijuana, have been pressing the Justice Department to make a decision on what the federal government would do where recreational use has been legalized.

“This very carefully considered approach by the federal government will allow our state to move forward and show the country a way a well-regulated system can be effectuated in a state while still respecting the federal Controlled Substances Act,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a 62-year-old Democrat, said today at a news briefing in Olympia.

Trusting States

“What I’m hearing from the federal government is that they believe there’s a reason to trust the states of Colorado and Washington,” Inslee told reporters. “So we’re not going to allow distribution of this product in a way that has massive leakage outside the state of Washington. We’re not going to allow distribution of this product to minors.”

Colorado Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, 61, said the state shares the Justice Department’s enforcement priorities. The state is “determined to keep marijuana businesses from being fronts for criminal enterprises or other illegal activity,” he said in a statement.

‘A Mistake’

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 50, a Republican who is seeking re-election in November and may run for president in 2016, called Holder’s decision not to challenge recreational marijuana laws “a mistake.”

It amounts to a “de facto” legalization, said Christie, a former U.S. attorney. New Jersey won’t move toward legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the governor told reporters in Point Pleasant today.

Washington and Colorado have been designing regulations for the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana while the Obama administration formulated its position on the state laws.

The Justice Department said it reserves the right to preempt the states should they run afoul of the new guidelines.

 Cops want continuing drug money 

By Ryan Grim on 30 August 2013 for Huffington Post -

Image above: DEA agents remove "evidence" in pot dispensary raid in san Diaego 4/23/13. Look like regular cops to me - except for the face hoods. From (

A broad coalition of law enforcement officers who have spent the past three decades waging an increasingly militarized drug war that has failed to reduce drug use doesn't want to give up the fight.

Organizations that include sheriffs, narcotics officers and big-city police chiefs slammed Attorney General Eric Holder in a joint letter Friday, expressing "extreme disappointment" at his announcement that the Department of Justice would allow Colorado and Washington to implement state laws that legalized recreational marijuana for adults.

If there had been doubt about how meaningful Holder's move was, the fury reflected in the police response eliminates it. The role of law enforcement is traditionally understood to be limited to enforcing laws, but police organizations have become increasingly powerful political actors, and lashed out at Holder for not consulting sufficiently before adopting the new policy.

"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," the letter reads. "Our organizations were given notice just thirty minutes before the official announcement was made public and were not given the adequate forum ahead of time to express our concerns with the Department’s conclusion on this matter.

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."

The missive was signed by the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Narcotic Officers Associations’ Coalition, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Law enforcement, the police groups said, "becomes infinitely harder for our front-line men and women given the Department’s position."

The Justice Department declined to respond.

Local law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the drug war for funding. Police departments are often able to keep a large portion of the assets they seize during drug raids, even if charges are never brought. And federal grants for drug war operations make up a sizable portion of local law enforcement funding.

The letter warns that marijuana can cause suicidal thoughts, impairs driving and is a "gateway drug." The missive does not, however, address the failure of law enforcement generally to reduce drug use, even while tripling the number of people behind bars. Instead, the police warn that liberalizing pot laws will lead to an increase in crime.

"The decision will undoubtedly have grave unintended consequences, including a reversal of the declining crime rates that we as law enforcement practitioners have spent more than a decade maintaining," the officers write.

Worse, they warn, more states are likely to follow Washington and Colorado.

"The failure of the Department of Justice to challenge state policies that clearly contradict Federal law is both unacceptable and unprecedented. The failure of the Federal government to act in this matter is an open invitation to other states to legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law," they write.E


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