Posts tagged ‘Eric Holder’

Obama’s ‘Change’ Not So Different from Bush Polices

Today, a federal judge sentenced Charles Lynch to one year and one day in prison (366 days).

Mr. Lynch legally distributed medical marijuana under state law in California. However, because he violated federal law, he was tried in a federal court. In court, he was barred from presenting the key evidence: distribution of medicinal marijuana in California is legal.

A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that the Obama administration would only target those who violate both federal and state law. Lynch’s trial began over a year ago, and Holder did not specify the fate of those whose sentences were still pending.

If the polices have shifted, what is the point of keeping Lynch in prison? In the future, people like Mr. Lynch will never even have to stand trial, let alone be sentenced (assuming the Obama administration honors this promise). Therefore, Obama should pardon Mr. Lynch,  just as Ford pardoned Nixon, relieving him from any criminal record or time in prison.

Call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 and tell Obama that you expect him to pardon Charles Lynch outright. Sample script below:

Hello. My name is ________ and I am calling because Attorney General Holder previously stated that the Obama administration would not punish individuals who distribute and use medical marijuana legally under state law. Charles Lynch was sentenced today to a year in prison for this very charge. While his arrest occured before Obama took office, I expect Obama to pardon Mr. Lynch to demonstrate his dedication to this change in policy.

(Note: While I respect NORML’s request that commuting the sentence would be acceptable, I disagree. Commuting just saves Lynch the prison time, but it does not acknowledge that conviction should never have happened in the first place. Therefore, I expect nothing less than a full pardon for Mr. Lynch).

June 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm Leave a comment

Eric Holder Renews Commitment to Drug Policy Change

On Thursday, US Attourney General Eric Holder explicitly stated the Obama administration’s new stance on medicinal marijuana. While his earlier comment left some room for ambiguity, the new statement makes the chance in policy unequivocal:

“The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law, to the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law. Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign.”

For the time being, this will allow states to effect their own medicinal marijuana laws properly. However, because this is strictly a policy of the Obama administration, the goal of lifting the federal ban on medicinal marijuana remains important because future administrations could reverse this policy. Still, this policy change will facilitate the legislative change that needs to follow. This is a very important step in the quest for drug policy reform.

March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

State Medicinal Marijuana Laws to be Upheld

Is this too good to be true?

If this video is to believed, then no. It’s true. Eric Holder, US Attorney General, is on record saying that the DEA raids on law-abiding medicinal marijuana providers are a ghost of the past.

I like to think of myself as a ‘cautious optimist’ in these situations, so I’ll hold the champagne for the time being, but this represents a huge victory for drug policy reform.

Why am I being cautious? Partly because there’s some transition time necessary. Even though this theoretically was US policy at noon on January 20th, because the administration is in transition, it sometimes takes time for policy shifts to be reflected in action. (For an example, take the raids in California not a week after Obama’s inauguration).  That, and the DEA still does not even have a new permanent drug czar, so I am afraid of being a bit too presumptuous.

That said, I think that we can all congratulate ourselves for helping effect this policy shift. And, if you feel so moved (which I hope you do), please take the time to thank Holder for these statements (as NORML asks you do). Just as it is important to call/urge/persuade before the fact, it is also important to let officials know after-the-fact that we appreciate their efforts.

This also has huge implications for states like New Jersey, which is considering a bill to legalize medicinal marijuana at the state level. During the debate in the state senate on Monday, Senator Gerald Cardinale condemneed the bill, arguing that it condoned violation of federal law. This new policy removes yet another argument against passing such bills, which are also being considered in Minnesota and Rhode Island.
Congratulations, and keep up the good work!

February 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment


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