Former DEA Chiefs Freak Over Legal Weed

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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All nine former administrators at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have come out in support of Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuit against Colorado’s marijuana legalization experiment by filing an amici curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tom Angell, Chairman of the Marijuana Majority, ultimately consider the brief to be a last gasp of the dying drug war.

“While the American people have moved on from the failed war on marijuana, these former DEA heads are like the Japanese soldiers who continued to fight World War II for years after 1945,” Tom Angell, Chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The war’s over, guys. You lost.”

The former administrators are arguing that Colorado is ruining other states by draining resources and harming the well-being of their citizens. And now, they maintain, Colorado must be stopped, Politico reports. Attorney Mark A. Perry, and other lawyers at the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, filed the brief on behalf of the former officials.

“We (former Administrators) firmly believe that Colorado’s law legalizing the large-scale cultivation and sale of marijuana, not only is causing great harm to neighboring states, but is in direct conflict with federal law. Under our Constitution, in which federal law trumps conflicting state laws, the Colorado law should be struck down by the Supreme Court, said Robert C. Bonner, who served under both George H.W. Bush and William Clinton from 1990 to 1993, in a press release on Thursday. “Given our former positions leading the nation on issues of federal drug laws and regulations, we are in a unique position to provide the Court with insight into why it is critically important that these States have their day in court.”

According to the brief, some issues, like marijuana, are under purview of the federal government and states may not choose to circumvent the national policy against drugs, which was originally established in 1970.

“Colorado’s law—if left unchecked—“gravely menace[s]” “[t]he health, comfort and prosperity of the people” in its neighboring States,” the brief argues. The Obama administration has so far refused to interfere with states’ rights over marijuana, and based on recent statements from administration officials, it’s unlikely that the trend of marijuana acceptance will reverse itself.

Colorado has been hit hard by lawsuits in recent months. Nebraska and Oklahoma first filed suit in December, arguing that the heaps of marijuana passing through porous borders into their states is driving up law enforcement costs and ruining the well-being of their citizens. The legal argument is that Colorado’s Amendment 64 stands opposed to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, meaning that states are prohibited from enacting policy which pushes back against federal law. Both states are asking the federal government to crack down on Colorado. (RELATED: Nebraska And Oklahoma Join Forces To Strike Down Colorado’s Legal Marijuana)

But attorney Adam Scavone isn’t convinced by the arguments listed in the brief, noting that it’s doubly strange for former law enforcement authorities to be arguing like lawyers on whether Nebraska and Oklahoma have legal standing.

“The brief is a transparent publicity stunt,” attorney Adam Scavone told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It seems that Nebraska, Oklahoma, and their attorneys are hoping that, by adding this roster of DEA retirees to their lawsuit, they will be able to divert attention from the fact that their argument is beyond weak as a legal matter, and probably wouldn’t pass muster in a first-year Constitutional law class at a law school.”

“Let’s cut to the chase,” Scavone continued. “The text of the Controlled Substances Act expressly states that federal law does not trump state law in this area. States are free to regulate and not march in lockstep with the federal government. I’m going to be surprised if the Supreme Court allows this to move forward at all. Frankly, if Nebraska and Oklahoma want to waste their resources hiring expensive law firms, they’re welcome to. They’re choosing to squander their constituents’ resources.”

March 27 is the deadline for Colorado to respond. While the lawsuit could potential drag on for years, Scavone thinks there’s a non-zero chance it could be tossed out in the very beginning stages by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court hasn’t yet committed to hearing the case.

This isn’t the first time DEA officials have banded together against marijuana. Back in 2012, when legalization was on the cusp in Colorado and Washington, the officials wrote Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to step in and subvert the process.

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