In a letter to former heads of the Drug Enforcement Agency on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. will enforce federal law prohibiting recreational marijuana use and production, regardless of whether Californians legalize the drug through Proposition 19.
The DEA chiefs had called on the Obama administration to sue California if the measure passes.
"We will vigorously enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-19 group, called Holder's statement "political posturing."
Also today, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley said they would continue to enforce federal marijuana laws even if Proposition 19 passed.
Two days ago, the RAND Corporation released a study on the effect that California's legalization of marijuana would have on Mexican drug cartels, which have engaged in a frightening level of violence over the past few years.
Key study highlights here, including these:
The only way that legalizing marijuana in California could significantly influence DTO revenues and the related violence is if California-produced marijuana were smuggled to other states at prices that outcompete current Mexican supplies. In this scenario, legalizing marijuana in California could undercut sales of Mexican marijuana in much of the nation, cutting DTOs’ marijuana export revenues by more than 65 percent and probably by 85 percent or more. As such, Mexican DTOs would lose approximately 20 percent of their total drug export revenues.
It is unclear whether reductions in Mexican DTOs’ revenues from exporting marijuana would lead to corresponding decreases in violence. Some mechanisms suggest that large reductions in revenues could increase violence in the short run and decrease it in the long run.