Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Justice paving the way for legalizing marijuana?

Marijuana smokers might be breathing a little easier thanks to a policy switch by the U.S. Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that federal prosecutors would not spend limited time and resources on people who use or sell medical marijuana "in strict compliance with state law." Thirteen states have medical marijuana laws, which are controversial because federal narcotics laws trump state statutes.

Of course, the new federal policy doesn't prevent local prosecutors from cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley has vowed to shutter the city's dispensaries, which he says cater to people who do not have legitimate medical reasons for using marijuana.
Is the Justice Department paving the way for legalizing marijuana? And is it crazy to think the Obama administration is more federalist -- that is, respectful of state and local government decision-making -- than the supposedly federalism-loving Republicans? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, attempt to cut through the haze.


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