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Ex-DEA heads: Feds should nullify state pot laws

By Michael Tarm

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:55 a.m. HST, Mar 05, 2013

CHICAGO » Eight former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs say the federal government needs to act now or it might lose the chance to nullify Colorado and Washington's laws legalizing recreational marijuana use.

The onetime DEA heads plan to issue joint statements today saying the Obama administration has reacted too slowly and should immediately sue to force the states to rescind the legislation.

The Associated Press received an advance copy of the statement Monday.

One of the former DEA administrators, Peter Bensinger, told the AP that the more time goes by, the harder it'll be to stop the two states. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Bensinger, who lives in the Chicago area, said the government must immediately sue the states or risk creating "a domino effect" in which other states follow suit.

"My fear is that the Justice Department will do what they are doing now: do nothing and say nothing," said Bensinger. "If they don't act now, these laws will be fully implemented in a matter of months."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a meeting of state attorneys general last week that he is still reviewing the laws but that his review is winding down. Asked Monday for a comment on the criticism from the former DEA administrators, Holder spokeswoman Allison Price would only say, "The Department of Justice is in the process of reviewing those initiatives."

The department's review has been under way since shortly after last fall's elections. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, on the grounds that doing so conflicts with federal drug law. Alternatively, Holder could decide not to mount a court challenge.

The ex-DEA heads are issuing the statements though the Florida-based Save Our Society from Drugs, a national group lobbying against legalization. One of the group's spokesmen is based in Chicago.

The former DEA administrators are Bensinger, John Bartels, Robert Bonner, Thomas Constantine, Asa Hutchinson, John Lawn, Donnie Marshall and Francis Mullen. They served for both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Holder is scheduled to appear Wednesday before a U.S. Senate judiciary committee hearing. The former DEA chiefs want senators to question Holder on the legalization issue.

Advocates of legalization have welcomed Colorado and Washington's new laws, arguing that criminalizing drugs creates serious though unintended social problems. The ex-DEA heads say they disagree with that view.

After votes last fall, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana's recreational use — putting federal authorities in a quandary over how, or whether, to respond.

Washington state officials responsible for creating a regulated marijuana system have said they are moving forward with a timetable of issuing producer licenses by August.

Bensinger — who served as DEA administrator under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan — said the supremacy of federal law over state law when it comes to drug laws isn't in doubt.

"This is a no-brainer," he said. "It is outrageous that a lawsuit hasn't been filed in federal court yet."

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noheawilli wrote:
Isn't the check that it's the state's that nullify the Feds? The Feds just use Thier threat of violence.
on March 5,2013 | 05:04AM
cartwright wrote:
http://www.saveoursociety.org/ Lots of good info on it. Support them.
on March 5,2013 | 05:50AM
loquaciousone wrote:
They don't call it Baka Lolo for nothing.
on March 5,2013 | 05:58AM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 5,2013 | 06:00AM
artmurch wrote:
2_centz you are such an erudite grammarian that I must assume you are extremely intelligent and well informed; thus, I ask, what cliff are you fearing? Would you use your obvious skill with words to describe it for us?
on March 5,2013 | 06:28AM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 5,2013 | 06:47AM
false wrote:
There is no scientific proof that it leads to other forms of drugs. The fact is that prescribed drugs lead to addiction and other forms of drugs. Cannabis is non-addictive. Then there is the cold hard fact that the Feds supply people with it like a certain former President with glaucoma. It is also being used by the Feds in tests for the treatment of PTSD with success.
on March 5,2013 | 06:59AM
Usagi336 wrote:
Wow! Where can I get some weed that makes me see rainbows and bubbles? Of course I see rainbows everyday and people talking bubbles but I sobah. You know that you could be describing alcohol, or religion, or love, or TV, or....
on March 5,2013 | 07:02AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Funny. They don't say WHY marijuana needs to be illegal at the Federal level. They should probably have a good reason beyond "because we want too."

Personally, I'd like to see all those millions spent going after meth, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and illegal prescription drugs. You know, the drugs that actually destroy lives.
on March 5,2013 | 06:34AM
Usagi336 wrote:
My thoughts exactly.
on March 5,2013 | 07:03AM
serious wrote:
Yes, good point. We should use those police funds for going after escaped convicts so they don't have to use overtime.
on March 5,2013 | 08:14AM
shanik wrote:
on March 5,2013 | 08:35AM
mynah wrote:
aw gee. just one friday nite hit to get me through the last week.
on March 5,2013 | 06:39AM
ghstar wrote:
These are the same leaders that have failed for years in the "war on drugs". If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what your getting. Maybe its time to try something else. If these former DEA officials are so smart, how come the war on drugs has been such a failure?
on March 5,2013 | 06:42AM
false wrote:
Because of things like letting Noriega go back home despite knowing about his cocaine and other drug related operations; supplying guns to the cartels a la Fast & Furious; over prescribing narcotics to the point the patient gets addicted; etc.
on March 5,2013 | 07:26AM
jusjoking wrote:
I don't use the pakalolo myself but I can see the feds take on keeping the herb medicinal and or illegal as a way of keeping the status quo. I wonder what the former DEA officials do with the rest of their spare time other than lobbying for the continuation of a massive unwinnable war on drugs, all the while collecting tax funded retirement benefits.....
on March 5,2013 | 07:30AM
false wrote:
The fact is that the Federal laws place marijuana in the same classification as Heroin, LSD, and a host of other drugs in the Schedule I list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Schedule_I_drugs_(US)) where it doesn't belong. If you look at the Schedule II drug list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Schedule_II_drugs_(US)) you'll see all the drugs that can be legally prescribed and are the most abused. The bottom line is that there are many proven medicinal benefits from the use of marijuana despite the claims of the Feds. The rest of the medical world knows this but our government just refuses to accept the facts because the pharmaceutical companies - DC's biggest Lobbyist contingent - can't make money off of something people can grow themselves. Add to that the fact that the Feds actually supply it for a select few in quantities far greater than necessary and then condemn the cultivation, sale and use for those outside this elite group exposes them for the two-faced liars they really are. I think Bill Maher put it best - The U.S. Government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Pharmaceutical companies. I've fought cancer (and won - for now), Crohn's disease and RA with only the assistance of marijuana because I am allergic to basically everything from aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol) on up to the latest and greatest treatments for those diseases. FYI: My allergies came from exposure to far too many "substances" used by the US during a conflict in a certain now non-existent southeast Asian country in the early 70's while I was wearing a uniform. As one of my doctors put it , "Your body has been biochemically reprogrammed from excessive exposure to various chemical agents used during your time in country". I have seen the benefits of it's use first hand as have many others with friends and family suffering from these and other diseases like AIDS. Personally, Colorado and Washington have taken the steps necessary to make it so those of us who need to have access to marijuana for medicinal purposes can do so without fear of prosecution for just wanting a more normal quality of life while we fight these diseases 24/7 just to stay alive.
on March 5,2013 | 07:22AM
BIG wrote:
on March 5,2013 | 07:45AM
BIG wrote:
how old is Bensinger
on March 5,2013 | 07:47AM
Hotel wrote:
Barry McCrafferty, "The the butcher of Basra", when he was the Drug Czar, declared marijuana an entryway drug. Then he wasn't the Drug Czar and marijuana was NOT and entryway drug. Then McCafferry got a job for a private thinktank and marijuana was again an entry way drug. Alocohol is the entryway drug. Seniors that do not drive should be allowed to grow a few plants on our lanais.
on March 5,2013 | 10:34AM
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