Weed is becoming legal, but federal marijuana enforcement rages on despite the Obama administration's promise to ease up. The DEA is still actively raiding weed operations both in legalized and prohibited states. According to DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, speaking at a Senate Judiciary committee hearing, one of the dangers is the involvement of illegal traffickers in cahoots with legal operations.
We see the DEA addressing this in ongoing raids like a recent one in Denver targeting an international trafficking operation. Another is that states surrounding Colorado and Washington would see in increase in illegal marijuana trafficking, something echoed by some of the states concerned. Pretty reasonable so far, right? Wait until she gets to the good part.
Leonhard also stated her support for mandatory minimum sentences. Not only is the head of the DEA upholding a policy that has long been decried as fundamentally racist, she’s also going against Attorney General Eric Holder’s ongoing effort to reduce its prevalence.
She also cited the danger of pot’s renewed, safer perception as a threat to an increase in use, claiming that emergency room visits for weed-related ailments have gone up drastically over the past years. She neglected to mention that no one has died from a marijuana overdose. This is the same Leonhart who last month expressed her concern to the House Appropriations subcommittee for pets who accidentally consume edibles, completely ignoring that several human children have been hospitalized for the same reason.
Leonhart represents the stubbornness that holds back both the public and the authorities when it comes to sensibly moving forward with legalization. Fear mongering is made easy when you can incite people’s fears about the threat to children, or the stereotypically seedy element of drug dealers entering their neighborhoods. It’s this regressive thinking that is holding back medical marijuana in Connecticut, where municipalities are using unreasonably selective zoning and other administrative obstacles to slow down the spread. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s MMJ patients are forced to buy medical cannabis on the street. Similar situations are arising all over the country. In Oregon, individual counties are banning dispensaries within their borders. In California, Sacramento County aims to label outdoor gardens a public nuisance.
All this opposition stems from a misinformed view on marijuana. While public support for legalization is climbing, there are plenty of loud voices that continue to vilify, threatening to curb progress.
They claim that marijuana threatens our children, even though a number of conservative governors have acquiesced on MMJ only for the treatment of children with severe epilepsy. They claim that drug offenders should be in jail despite the reality that our prisons are packed with minority non-violent criminals. They say it attracts a seedy element when, in the long run, legalization means more regulation and less criminality. It’s all completely unreasonable, and yet the paradox remains: how do you reason with the unreasonable? Time and research and discovery seem to have no effect on the parties committed to their opposition.