Obama administration enforces some laws; others not so much

Stephanie Wang Contributor
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Medical marijuana providers are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion.

According to President Obama, the Justice Department has been using prosecutorial discretion to “properly prioritize [their] resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”

Despite President Obama’s 2008 campaign promise that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws,” his administration has conducted more medical marijuana raids than the Bush administration.

Clarifying his position, Obama told Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana—and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law.”

“I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books,'” the president continued, “What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’”

Although medical marijuana is illegal at the federal level, it is currently legal in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

Still, it seems prosecuting medical marijuana growers is a higher priority than deporting the country’s illegal immigrants.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano laid out the new Department of Homeland Security enforcement plans for the country’s immigration laws this morning.

Exercising “prosecutorial discretion,” the new enforcement policies will allow certain illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. legally, including those under 30 who were brought to the country under the age of 16.

Kris Hermes, media specialist at Americans for Safe Access, an organization which promotes safe and legal access to medical marijuana, said, “it appears Obama is beginning to have some compassion by at least not deporting some immigrants.” Hermes speculated that Obama perhaps is realizing that allowing younger illegal immigrants to remain in the country is a popular opinion among Americans.

Hermes continued, “He should better understand that medical marijuana is a position that the vast amount of Americans support. He should use prosecutorial discretion in the same way.”

Reason.com writer, Mike Riggs, also questioned the difference between the two positions. In a blog post “Why Can Obama Bend the Law for Young Immigrants but nor for Drug Users?,” he wrote, “Today’s immigration announcement makes a compelling case that Obama is capable of using his executive powers to *not* enforce the law, and will do so when it’s politically advantageous.”