Obama's Medical Marijuana Policy Issued

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  • #76
russ_watters
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I responded to part of this before, but....
If you read the memo it comes across as more of a sheriff telling his deputy not to watch crosswalks for jaywalkers all day, but to rather work on higher priority crimes.....

"Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law, and the list of factors above is not intended to describe exhaustively when a federal prosecution may be warranted. "

Which is obvious he's not intending to NOT prosecute them...

EDIT:

For those that are arguing for or against what this memo said, without having actually, fully read it, please take the time to do so. Don't go on what the media is reporting from either side.
http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/192 [Broken]
Thank you for posting the entire link. I see the quote you refer to in the memo. I also see this:
memo said:
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.
So my question is, if this is really about prioritizing federal resources, why does it matter what state law says? Will a cancer patient in Pennsylvania be prosecuted because Pennsylvania doesn't have a medicinal marijuana law? That's how the memo reads. If cancer patients who smoke pot really aren't worthy of the attention of federal prosecutors, then it shouldn't matter that PA has no medicinal marijuana law - they shouldn't be prosecuted. Setting up the enforcement different in different states means that the federal government is applying the law differently in different states, ceding their responsibility to enforce federal law in situations where federal law conflicts with state law*. I believe we once had a civil war over that very issue.

The statements of general principle in the memo are at odds with the actual wording/intent of the policy.

*And why is this being done? It is being done because Obama doesn't agree with the Federal law regarding medicinal marijuana and is nullifying it by choosing not to enforce it where he thinks he can get away with it. Based on the Youtube quote with his answer to the question, I don't think there can be any question as to Obama's motivation here. He doesn't like the law, so he's nullifying it.
 
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  • #77
russ_watters
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But is he entitled to make a suggestion of priorities?
I believe mhselp put it best: he is entitled to rearrange the list of priorities, but he's not allowed to remove anything from the list.

[separate post]
After reading the memo a fourth time, just to make sure, I STILL read it as priority guidelines.
Ok, you've responded to the parts of the memo that agree with your position: could you please respond to the parts that don't? Could you please respond to the quotes where it says "prioritization" means dropping an entire class of defendants in states where state law conflicts with federal law? I quoted it above, here it is again:
memo said:
As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.
Just to make sure we are both reading that the same way: do you agree that it says not to prosecute any violators of federal law where state law conflicts with federal law on the subject?
 
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  • #78
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I responded to part of this before, but.... Thank you for posting the entire link. I see the quote you refer to in the memo. I also see this: So my question is, if this is really about prioritizing federal resources, why does it matter what state law says? Will a cancer patient in Pennsylvania be prosecuted because Pennsylvania doesn't have a medicinal marijuana law? That's how the memo reads. If cancer patients who smoke pot really aren't worthy of the attention of federal prosecutors, then it shouldn't matter that PA has no medicinal marijuana law - they shouldn't be prosecuted. Setting up the enforcement different in different states means that the federal government is applying the law differently in different states, ceding their responsibility to enforce federal law in situations where federal law conflicts with state law*. I believe we once had a civil war over that very issue.

The statements of general principle in the memo are at odds with the actual wording/intent of the policy.

*And why is this being done? It is being done because Obama doesn't agree with the Federal law regarding medicinal marijuana and is nullifying it by choosing not to enforce it where he thinks he can get away with it. Based on the Youtube quote with his answer to the question, I don't think there can be any question as to Obama's motivation here. He doesn't like the law, so he's nullifying it.
In PA there are not large growing operations in the open.
 
  • #79
Hepth
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Just to make sure we are both reading that the same way: do you agree that it says not to prosecute any violators of federal law where state law conflicts with federal law on the subject?
Maybe I just read it different than you. From your quote, when I read:
"...pursuit of these priorities should not focus ..."

I read "should not focus" as "should not take a high percentage of time/manpower" not "should not pursue" or "ignore".

Isn't that how "focus" should be treated? I know this is semantics, but law is semantics. When I say "don't focus on this" I don't mean "ignore this", I mean, "don't devote a lot of thought to it".

This is why we have so many problems with interpretation of law, everyone reads it differently :)

Oh, and just to be clear, I'm trying not to cherrypick this memo for things that you say support "my position". I'm under the firm belief, as I think I stated earlier, that LAW is LAW and it applies today and should be enforced TODAY. I DEFINITELY think its ok to prosecute these people. I just think that either Obama, the deputy AG, or the AG has the right to make suggestions and prioritize the efforts of the federal drug wars.

People by now should know that medicinal marijuana, while approved by some states is still federally illegal, and they are choosing to violate that law, and thus should be prosecuted accordingly.
 
  • #80
lisab
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Maybe I just read it different than you. From your quote, when I read:
"...pursuit of these priorities should not focus ..."

I read "should not focus" as "should not take a high percentage of time/manpower" not "should not pursue" or "ignore".

Isn't that how "focus" should be treated? I know this is semantics, but law is semantics. When I say "don't focus on this" I don't mean "ignore this", I mean, "don't devote a lot of thought to it".

This is why we have so many problems with interpretation of law, everyone reads it differently :)

Oh, and just to be clear, I'm trying not to cherrypick this memo for things that you say support "my position". I'm under the firm belief, as I think I stated earlier, that LAW is LAW and it applies today and should be enforced TODAY. I DEFINITELY think its ok to prosecute these people. I just think that either Obama, the deputy AG, or the AG has the right to make suggestions and prioritize the efforts of the federal drug wars.

People by now should know that medicinal marijuana, while approved by some states is still federally illegal, and they are choosing to violate that law, and thus should be prosecuted accordingly.
Good points, Hepth.

Law enforcement is not a black-or-white issue. There are judgments made at each level, straight down to the beat cop.

For example, everyone knows that the speed limit is not really the speed limit. Even the most law-and-order citizen would raise holy hell if he got a speeding ticket for being just 1 mph over the limit.
 
  • #81
Al68
You need to provide a logical argument with citations. Again, this is patently false and I gave you a citation from a legal textbook that agrees: the executive does not have the authority to decline to enforce the laws it has been charged with enforcing.
"Unconstitutional" means violating the constitution, not some lawyer's opinion. The text you referenced is just someone's opinion. "Appeal to authority" is just a logical fallacy, not evidence. All you provided is evidence of the author's opinion, which I have no reason to be interested in. You just proved that someone agrees with you. Is that the standard for substantiating claims? Providing evidence that someone else agrees with the claim? That would explain a lot.
You are making this up as you go along. I've provided a citation: now I'm demanding one of you.
Demand or not, I will never use any source other than the U.S. Constitution itself for the purpose of determining if something violates it. Why would anyone capable of thinking for themselves?

Using the constitution as the sole source for determining what the constitution says is "making it up as I go along"? Seriously?
[edit] I have let you weasel too far away from this issue. Weaseling about whether this is partial or total deprioritization isn't really all that critical here:
Nice ad hominem attacks.
Do you believe the President is entitled to place state law above federal law?
The constitution determines whether federal law or state law has jurisdiction, not Obama. If federal law has jurisdiction, the President has the power to enforce it, and decide whether or not to prosecute any particular case. The concept of prosecutorial discretion is not a new one, and federal law simply does not require every violation to be prosecuted.

Why don't you cite the federal law that requires a federal prosecutor to prosecute someone for smoking marijuana?
 
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  • #82
OmCheeto
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Good points, Hepth.

Law enforcement is not a black-or-white issue. There are judgments made at each level, straight down to the beat cop.

For example, everyone knows that the speed limit is not really the speed limit. Even the most law-and-order citizen would raise holy hell if he got a speeding ticket for being just 1 mph over the limit.

I was researching "legal precedent" the other day and ran across this quote:

Blackstone says, that a former decision is in general to be followed unless "manifestly absurd or unjust," and, in the latter case, it is declared when overruled not that the former sentence was bad law, but that it was not law.
Does anyone remember the 18th and (hic:wink:) 21st amendments to the Constitution?

When laws are just fads, who cares?
 
  • #83
486
1
So my question is, if this is really about prioritizing federal resources, why does it matter what state law says? Will a cancer patient in Pennsylvania be prosecuted because Pennsylvania doesn't have a medicinal marijuana law? That's how the memo reads. If cancer patients who smoke pot really aren't worthy of the attention of federal prosecutors, then it shouldn't matter that PA has no medicinal marijuana law - they shouldn't be prosecuted. Setting up the enforcement different in different states means that the federal government is applying the law differently in different states, ceding their responsibility to enforce federal law in situations where federal law conflicts with state law. I believe we once had a civil war over that very issue.
The memo never actually says why going after medicinal marijuana users is not an efficient use of federal resources. However, it seems to imply that the main inefficiency is the inevitable argument with the state, rather than the tears of the ill.

And yes, stating that arguing with state laws in inefficient does seem to be sliding back toward the build-up to the civil war. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The civil war was absolutely necessary, because slavery had to be ended. However, I am uncomfortable with the generalized outcome that the federal government (nearly?) always trumps the state government. The fewer people governed by governments, the easier it is for the government to actually reflect the will of the people. So yeah, I like the idea of giving more power to the state governments, even if some of the steps along the way are a little shady.

Also, Ogden clearly limits his directive to the very bottom of the supply chain: the (medicinal) user and his immediate supplier. According to Ogden, growers/large distributors should still be prosecuted if there's any reason to suspect that they're not 100% medicinal.
 
  • #84
486
1
Rather off-topic, but FYI:

...The pill [Marinol] didn't work, but the brownies did. So was it a dosage issue or does the pill just not work for what it is supposed to do?
Different people react differently to Marinol. Some people can get slightly high on it; for others it has absolutely no effect, regardless of dosage.
 
  • #85
russ_watters
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The memo never actually says why going after medicinal marijuana users is not an efficient use of federal resources. However, it seems to imply that the main inefficiency is the inevitable argument with the state, rather than the tears of the ill.
Ahh, that's a good possibility. So is that a legally acceptable position for the federal government to take? I would think not!
And yes, stating that arguing with state laws in inefficient does seem to be sliding back toward the build-up to the civil war. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The civil war was absolutely necessary, because slavery had to be ended.
Um - you're going backwards here. Or are you saying that medical pot is a big enough issue that we should be digressing toward civil war over it? Me, personally - I think once the issue of states rights was settled, the federal government shouldn't be allowing it to rear its head again. As I said before, this isn't just about pot to me. Once the federal government starts letting the states peck away, they are going to keep pecking away until they hit something big.
 
  • #86
turbo
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Me, personally - I think once the issue of states rights was settled, the federal government shouldn't be allowing it to rear its head again.
"States rights" has never been settled. I grew up in the 60's when the "states rights" argument was used to defend the suppression of civil rights, support the extension of "separate but equal" laws, and defend the imposition of poll taxes and "literacy requirements" to deny some groups the right to vote. Short memory? "States rights" has been a darling cause of bigots for decades. Now that some states want to ease regulations on the use of marijuana for medical conditions and allow same-sex marriage, the right demonizes "states rights" as if somehow the rational application of democracy in pursuit of the public good might cause our country to collapse into moral degeneracy.
 
  • #87
486
1
Ahh, that's a good possibility. So is that a legally acceptable position for the federal government to take? I would think not!
I didn't say it was legally acceptable: I said that the issue addressed by the memo is wrangling with individual states.

Um - you're going backwards here. Or are you saying that medical pot is a big enough issue that we should be digressing toward civil war over it?
Nope, I was unclear. My reference to slavery was more of an aside, mulling that smashing states rights in the 1860's (and again in the 1960's, as Turbo pointed out) was absolutely necessary. However, that doesn't mean that I at all like the precedent of the federal government always trumping the state government.

Me, personally - I think once the issue of states rights was settled, the federal government shouldn't be allowing it to rear its head again. As I said before, this isn't just about pot to me. Once the federal government starts letting the states peck away, they are going to keep pecking away until they hit something big.
Aaaaahhh, but I like small governments, because they're theoretically more accountable to the people.
 
  • #88
Al68
Me, personally - I think once the issue of states rights was settled, the federal government shouldn't be allowing it to rear its head again.
"States rights" has never been settled. I grew up in the 60's when the "states rights" argument was used to defend the suppression of civil rights, support the extension of "separate but equal" laws, and defend the imposition of poll taxes and "literacy requirements" to deny some groups the right to vote.
Of course the issue isn't settled in that sense, the issue settled is that the federal government has the legitimate authority to protect individual civil rights from infringements by a state, which is authorized by the constitution.

The issue of federalism, ie all undelegated powers reserved to the states, is only settled on paper (the constitution), not in practice. In practice, congress routinely exercises power it doesn't legitimately have, and the Supreme Court too often is too corrupt to stop it when they have the chance.

But "state rights" is an absurd phrase, since neither the federal government or any state has any "rights" according to the constitution, they have certain legitimate powers.
 
  • #89
russ_watters
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"States rights" has never been settled.
Yeah, it really has....
I grew up in the 60's when the "states rights" argument was used to defend the suppression of civil rights, support the extension of "separate but equal" laws, and defend the imposition of poll taxes and "literacy requirements" to deny some groups the right to vote. Short memory?
It was used - but not successfully! That's the point! It is not a legally viable position. When the federal government decided to get its act together and fix the civil rights problem, the "states rights" argument didn't prevent it.
"States rights" has been a darling cause of bigots for decades.
Centuries! I agree - it seems to me that most of the time when we see "states rights" based arguments, it is a smokescreen for a state wanting to do something they shouldn't - whether "states rights" existed or not. I mentioned in another thread that there are other recourses when the federal government does something it shouldn't, such as suing them (as CA has done in other cases). If the law is wrong (or the government is applying it wrong), they challenge the law. If the law is right, but the state still doesn't want to follow it, they argue "states rights" instead of actually addressing the "correctness" of the law.
 
  • #90
Al68
If the law is right, but the state still doesn't want to follow it, they argue "states rights" instead of actually addressing the "correctness" of the law.
Can you give an example of this? I was under the impression that "states rights" normally referred to claims that a federal law was invalid ("not correct", "wrong") due to the tenth amendment.

The Supreme Court has overturned many laws based on that argument in recent years.

Does "states rights" refer to something else?
 
  • #91
russ_watters
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Can you give an example of this? I was under the impression that "states rights" normally referred to claims that a federal law was invalid ("not correct", "wrong") due to the tenth amendment.

The Supreme Court has overturned many laws based on that argument in recent years.

Does "states rights" refer to something else?
Sorry, I'm not interested in arguing with someone who rejects substantiation out of hand and never substantiates their own arguments. It's pointless.
 
  • #92
Al68
Sorry, I'm not interested in arguing with someone who rejects substantiation out of hand and never substantiates their own arguments. It's pointless.
OK. Maybe someone else will answer. BTW, forum rules can be found here: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=113181 [Broken]. :!!)

Also BTW, I wouldn't call it "out of hand" to reject "substantiation" that consists solely of the logical fallacy of "appeal to authority" by using evidence that someone else agrees as "substantiation", unless the claim itself is only that others agree.

And forum rules require substantiation only for factual claims in support of an argument, not for "arguments" themselves, and certainly not for the purpose of showing that others agree with the argument.
 
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