Here is an excerpt from Nick Miroff and William Booth's article in The Washington Post:
To embattled authorities here, where heavily armed soldiers patrol the streets and more than 500 people have been killed this year, marijuana is a poisonous weed that enriches death-dealing cartel bosses who earn huge profits smuggling the product north... But just over the border in California, cannabis is considered by law a healing herb. After the Obama administration announced that it would not prosecute the purveyors, about 100 medical marijuana dispensaries opened in San Diego alone in the past year... As the Obama administration presses Mexican President Felipe Calderon to stand firm in his costly, bloody military campaign against drug mafias, Mexican leaders are increasingly asking why their country should continue to attack cannabis traffickers and peasant pot farmers if the U.S. government is barely enforcing federal marijuana laws in the most populous state. This debate grows more urgent as California prepares to vote in November on Proposition 19, a game-changing ballot initiative to legalize the recreational consumption of marijuana. According to the polls, the vote is tight. Weary of spectacular violence and destabilizing corruption stoked by the prohibition against pot, some of Mexico's most prominent figures are wondering aloud what legalization would do on their side of the drug war." Link to Full Article
Analysis: I was hearing about the upcoming Prop 19 vote in California (where I worked as a contract intel analyst for four years), and started thinking about our federal government's selective enforcement of laws. I asked the following question to my personal Facebook friends, and it started an interesting discussion: If CA state laws regarding medical marijuana are superseded by federal law (the Controlled Substances Act says using or selling marijuana is illegal anywhere), and AZ [attempted] state laws regarding illegal immigration are also superseded by federal law (a circuit court deemed AZ SB 1070 unconstitutional), how can our federal government in good faith choose to "enforce" federal immigration law in Arizona but not federal anti-drug law in California?
Obviously the answer to this is politics...I'm not stupid or naïve (although I'm sure some readers may disagree). But I just don't understand how this can happen so blatantly, and no one in the mainstream media seems to be taking significant note of this hypocrisy.
Whether you believe me or not, this has nothing to do with my personal views on either subject. It has to do with the lack of a consistent government policy regarding enforcement of federal laws. You really should read this article about the selective nature of federal enforcement efforts in California; it's one of the best explanations I've seen yet. In a nutshell, President Obama announced during his 2008 campaign and on several occasions since that the US Department of Justice would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries unless they were in the business of making big profits or dealing to people who didn't need the marijuana for medicinal purposes. Yet, despite this shift in policy (outlined in a memo by Deputy AG David Ogden in October 2009), the DEA has been conducting raids on several California dispensaries in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield, and other cities since 2008. After one particular raid in Alameda last week, one DEA agent said, "Today's enforcement operation once again enlightens the public of the true nature and motive behind marijuana distribution centers — money."
Here's where I'm going to throw you for a loop. I'm all about legalizing marijuana in the US. not because I use it; I've never used any form of illegal drug, and I happily investigated airmen who tested positive for marijuana use for several years when I was a federal agent in the Air Force. I have no interest in using it, even though I have multiple sclerosis and could probably benefit from its use for medicinal purposes. I'm just seeing too many resources wasted on it when I think it can be compared to alcohol or tobacco use. The harder drugs like cocaine, meth, and heroin are what our law enforcement agencies should really be focusing on.
That being said, I don't care how big California's economy is or how many people live there; Prop 19 isn't going to solve any problems in Mexico. Even nationwide legalization of marijuana isn't going to end the violence, although I think it would make a sizable dent in cartel profits. I believe DTOs would just engage in legal sales of marijuana, and still make money from the sale of still-illegal drugs. Don't forget, they're making bank off kidnapping and extortion operations now, too.
So, back to my original point: Don't piss on me and tell me it's raining. If the federal government wants to sue Arizona for doing what it wants with its laws in violation of federal law, then it has to take similar action against California and the other 11 states with marijuana dispensaries also in violation of federal law. Again, I know it's politics, but our neighbor to the south is watching. Before we can move forward with any effective and lasting border security policy, we need to have some semblance of credibility first. This brand of hypocrisy isn't helping.