|Sent on:||Saturday, August 31, 2013 4:54 PM|
COP on the Hill
Stories from the week of August 30, 2013
Dear Boys and Girls,
You probably have heard/read that AG Holder has called the governors of Colorado and Washington informing them that the federal law enforcement is allowing them to go forward to open and operate stores to sell marijuana to adults. This concept includes those twenty (20) states which allow medical marijuana. In a nutshell States Rights-Federalism has become the guiding principle for marijuana, as long as the States meet subjective, federal standards/controls (outlined below in a 4 page memo). Also at the bottom is a news report on how Senate staffers have included MJ as a possible new source of tax money.
So, my work is done and Karen and I are moving to Texas.
NOT. In one day the ball moved from the 10 yard line to the 50. Lots of work left to do.
Our foes are in retreat. What do we do now? Pursue & Attack of course: It was appropriate how I learned of the Holder Memo. I was finishing up a presentation at a California office, when a staffer interrupted us with the news. I was stunned and my brain told me this must be an Onion report or National Enquirer hoax. Yours truly never expected the feds to completely and openly cave.
I went down the hall to the elevator where there is a large, wooden box which contains gas masks. I sat on it and read the 4 page memo on Twitter. I called Mark Stepnoski (retired center for the Dallas Cowboys who gave me my start as a lobbyist 10 years ago in Texas), briefed him and as I was saying thanks and good-bye, choked up. After hanging up, I cried for three minutes.
Of course I decided to take the rest of the day off, catch the early train home and celebrate. As I took 20 steps in the direction of the train, I realized the amount of work left to go. I am a military history buff and I recalled how after Gettysburg, General Meade failed to pursue General Lee and force his surrender…and the blood continued to flow like a river for two extra years…. I got my list of offices I needed to see, made 3 more presentations and caught the late train home as planned.
At home I did pour myself a generous portion of Crown Royal and broke off 4 squares of Swiss chocolate I keep in the freezer. One huge step this week was.
I have some medium confidence that the energy of reform will flow harder to DC. We need to enshrine this gain into law, as Holder/Obama are gone in three years and the next President could change policy. The DPA conference next month in Denver will provide the platform for planning new strategy, talking points, etc.
BTW, if you have not emailed your Congressman to support HR 1523…pls. do so ASAP.
This week’s stats:
COP stats since inception: August 2009
Here is a summary of the Holder memo:
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Justice Department Announces Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an update to its federal marijuana enforcement policy in light of recent state ballot initiatives that legalize, under state law, the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.
In a new memorandum outlining the policy, the Department makes clear that marijuana remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act and that federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce this statute. To this end, the Department identifies eight (8) enforcement areas that federal prosecutors should prioritize. These are the same enforcement priorities that have traditionally driven the Department’s efforts in this area.
Outside of these enforcement priorities, however, the federal government has traditionally relied on state and local authorizes to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. This guidance continues that policy.
For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance. These schemes must be tough in practice, not just on paper, and include strong, state-based enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding. Based on assurances that those states will impose an appropriately strict regulatory system, the Department has informed the governors of both states that it is deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws at this time. But if any of the stated harms do materialize—either despite a strict regulatory scheme or because of the lack of one—federal prosecutors will act aggressively to bring individual prosecutions focused on federal enforcement priorities and the Department may challenge the regulatory scheme themselves in these states.
A copy of the memorandum, sent to all United States Attorneys by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, is available below.
As Congress wrestles with big budget cuts, marijuana businesses want to help out the federal government with a novel message: Tax us, please. Pot advocates say legalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol would add billions to the federal treasury, McClatchy Newspapers report. Some analysts dismiss a pot tax bonanza as far-fetched. Still, the idea is stirring serious debate on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Finance Committee included marijuana taxes in an options paper on possible new revenue sources. In the House, one proposal would legalize pot, tax it, and regulate it nationally. The less ambitious Small Business Tax Equity Act would allow the Internal Revenue Service to give breaks on federal income taxes for marijuana businesses. Noting that pot remains a banned substance, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron said, "If they don’t like the fact that they can’t take certain tax deductions because they’re in an illegal business, then they should go in some other business where they can take tax deductions." McClatchy