Four U.S. Congressmen want Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify the Obama Adminstration's position on medical marijuana, and what they're asking for cuts down party lines.
Ironically, it's two Democrats who are pushing for states' rights, while two Republicans are demanding that the federal government keep its stranglehold on the marijuana industry.
In a June 15 letter to Holder, Congressmen F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Lamar Smith of Texas note that they "strongly" disagree that the feds shouldn't bust medical pot dispensaries. Both have long been considered drug-war "extremists."
Meanwhile, Democrats Barney Frank of Massachussetts and Jared Polis of Colorado, who both would like to see marijuana legalized outright, have asked Holder to let states with medical-pot laws do what they wish.
While local blogger Greg Patterson recently penned a thoughtful argument about why Repubs are "following the rule of law even when they disagree with it. He refers to the outlandish decision in a 2005 Supreme Court case in which a pot-growing operation was said to be interstate commerce even if the pot never crossed state lines. Patterson goes on to say:
I think the Supreme Court got it wrong, but the issue has been decided. Do we follow the court or not. Obviously, even if we disagree with Supreme Court interpretations, we follow them.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Yet we as Americans don't just follow something like that blindly. When we don't get what we want, we push back. In the political wrangling before a landmark 1992 Supreme Court abortion case, for example, Pennsylvania GOP leaders pushed to overturn or modify Roe v. Wade.
No mental gymnastics or appeals to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court are required to see that how politicians feel about marijuana influences their position on this issue. If conservatives believed in the concept of medical marijuana, you can bet they'd be ahead of Democrats in crying that this was a states' rights issue.
That being said, it's hard to believe that Holder will make a clear decision on medical marijuana because that's not how the Obama Administration rolls. Like Patterson does occasionally, we'll make a prediction even on the chance that it'll be wrong: Holder's impending clarification will both allow states to have their medical laws but stop well short of reversing the Schedule One status of marijuana.
Anything clearer than that probably will have to wait until after the 2012 presidential election.