Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims attended a “high-profile week for the president’s anti-drug agenda” in Washington, D.C., Feb. 5 at which she advocated for the federal government to send clearer messages when it comes to the legality of marijuana.
While I personally believe that the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana should pass and be treated with the same strictness that we have for alcohol, I stand behind Mims’ initial intent regarding clarity of law. After all, laws should be clear.
“From the federal government, we keep getting mixed messages,” Mims said at the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Conference.
The Drug Enforcement Agency separates drugs into different classifications.
“Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence,” according to the DEA.
The law of the land is that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, which puts it, legally, on the level of LSD, peyote, ecstasy, bath salts and heroin. To have marijuana on the same list as the others is ridiculous.
For context, cocaine is a Schedule 2 drug. So the law says marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine.
Objectively, cocaine, and alcohol for that matter, is a more dangerous substance than marijuana, but that is neither here nor there. Mims’ trip to D.C. was purely political. Her goal was to get federal money to help with her disingenuous crusade against marijuana.
In an August 2013 memorandum from Deputy Attorney General James Cole sent to all U.S. state attorneys, he said, “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.”
However, he went on to say that the federal government won’t seek legal action in states that have legalized marijuana as long as the drug is well-regulated.
“In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form and that have also implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana, conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities set forth above,” he wrote.
In 2014, the United States Congress passed legislation that the Los Angeles Times said “effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.”
Basically, the legislation says that the DEA will not be permitted to pursue medical marijuana users in states where medical marijuana is legal. It doesn’t legalize it nationwide, it merely leaves it up to the states to decide whether medical use of the drug would be allowed.
Right now, there are 23 states with legalized marijuana. Of those, 19 – including California – have legalized medical marijuana, and four have broad recreational usage.
In 2010, Proposition 19 failed by 7 percent of the vote. If it had passed, marijuana usage in California would have been legal under state law.
In 2016, it is expected that the issue will once again be on the ballot in California. With 2016 being a presidential election year, voter turnout will be much higher than in 2010, and the wealth of liberal voters in California will likely push the proposition through and legalize marijuana statewide.
Meanwhile, our sheriff has decided that she is going to use our tax dollars to use the fullest extent of the current law to take down marijuana users. She has no intention of seeing the way the wind blows and forego wasting money that can go to other ventures.
In fact, despite not being a legislature, Mims advocated that marijuana remain illegal despite that no legitimate studies have shown it to be as harmful as heroin or other drugs it’s compared with.
Even with reassurance that marijuana isn’t coming off the Schedule 1 list and will remain illegal, Mims said, “I want to hear that message more.”
With all due respect, Sheriff Mims, your job is to enforce the law, not be vindictive and fiscally reckless about it.
With the levels of gun violence in Fresno County, perhaps you should spend your time and money dealing with that, instead of wasting millions on filling up already-full jails in the least cost-effective program in history.
Harping on marijuana demonstrates your passion for the letter of the law, but contempt for the people for whom you are supposed to protect.