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Federal prosecutors waste dollars and harm lives on medical marijuana prosecutions

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Unfortunately, as we get closer to the next presidential election, President Obama will likely look even more like Tweedledum to the Republicans’ Tweedledee on criminal prosecutions, national security, and counterterrorism, lest he rattle independents to vote for the Republican nominee.  

Whether or not that has motivated the Obama administration’s recent announcement of further crackdowns on medical marijuana, the crackdown is what his chief California federal prosecutors announced last week in that state (thanks to a listserv member for posting this article). Such an announcement is a clear about-face from Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation during Obama’s post-inaugural fanfare that "ending federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries ‘is now American policy.’" Such a crackdown also is antithetical to federalism, which is a principle near and dear still to plenty of political conservatives.

The chief federal California prosecutors claim to be focusing their prosecution and asset forfeiture efforts on high-revenue medical marijuana dispensaries and their landlords. However, instead federal prosecutors should leave to states the job of enforcing medical marijuana laws, and should recognize that profit motive is as American as apple pie, and the prosecutorial focus should be not on profit but on the benefit to people who benefit from marijuana as medicine and their need for a reliable supply of their medicine.

Better still, it is time to legalize marijuana entirely, along with prostitution and gambling, and to heavily decriminalize all other drugs, eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing, the death penalty, and drunk driving per se blood alcohol content criminal laws. Then, we will have not only more manageable governmental budgets that more responsibly address the realities of our nation’s financial and tax-base crisis, but only then will we have a better quality criminal justice system in which more people will have confidence and respect.