Understanding federal marijuana laws
The Drug Enforcement Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Justice. The two paragraphs below are taken directly off the DEA's web site.
"Marijuana is the most widely used and readily available drug in the United States, and is the only major drug of abuse grown within the U.S. borders. The DEA is aggressively striving to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States. To accomplish this, the DEA initiated the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), which is the only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) involved in cannabis cultivation.... In 2007, the DCE/SP was responsible for the eradication of 6,599,599 cultivated outdoor cannabis plants and 434,728 indoor plants. In addition, the DCE/SP has attributed for 8,321 arrests and the seizure in excess of 54.9 million dollars of cultivator assets. The program also removed 4,909 weapons from cannabis cultivators."
It further reported "in 2007, the DEA State and Local Task Force Program had expanded to 218 state and local task forces, of which 173 are program funded and 45 are provisional. The difference between funded and provisional state and local task forces is that the financial support for funded task forces is provided by DEA headquarters and includes additional resources for state and local overtime. Provisional task forces are supported by the operating budgets of DEA field division offices, without resources from DEA headquarters, and do not included state and local overtime. These task forces are staffed by 1, 670 DEA special agents and 2,875 state and local police officers. Participating state and local task force officers are deputized to perform the same functions as DEA special agents. See U.S. Map of DEA Task Forces."
The second wave of federal opposition is the Presidents Office of National Drug Control Policy whose National Drug Control Strategy FY 2009 Budget Summary calls for $14.1 billion more of the same.
The National Drug Control Strategy—Budget Summary identifies resources that support the three key elements of the Strategy: (1) Stopping Use Before it Starts; (2) Intervening and Healing America's Drug Users; and, (3) Disrupting the Market.
In Michigan that policy includes the support of fifteen multijurisdictional task forces that include over 90 Michigan State Police posts, the 83 Sheriffs offices and a handful of local law enforcement agencies.
Federal law enforcement's grip on cannabis was born from hysteria and with encouragement of "tough on crime" politicians and bolstered by multi-billion dollar budgets has grown tighter ever since! In one hand they clutch the Controlled Substances Act as their bible and in their other hand the ONDCP's 2008 Marijuana Sourcebook for their hymnal, singing their own praises and waging a holy war on drugs. Even with a rising tide of public support for cannabis, the mere mention of loosening laws has them reciting scripture from their holy books, invoking the name of god and framing the dicussion around the welfare of "the children".
Don't expect federal law enforcement officials to give up control of marijuana without a fight. This is a huge economic issue to them, regardless of right and wrong. But hope does exist, a recent column by Sasha Abramsky, columnist for The Guardian in the UK, entitled The End Of Tough-On-Crime Politics, has an interesting and optomistic view. Hopes are also high for many with an Obama Administration and democrats controlling Congress. Let's keep our fingers crossed!