Judge Won't Touch Marijuana Debate
WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge this week dismissed a complaint from a man who claimed the Department of Justice unconstitutionally hijacked the State of Washington's control over its marijuana policy, by declaring the Justice Department's priorities in prosecuting marijuana crimes.
Arthur West sued Attorney General Eric Holder and several Washington state officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee and Liquor Control Board Chairwoman Sharon Foster, invoking the anti-commandeering doctrine of the Constitution.
"Washington recently enacted an initiative measure ('I-502') concerning the distribution and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes, which included legislation providing that marijuana use and possession do not constitute criminal or civil offenses under Washington state law," U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote in his Aug. 5 ruling, summing up the conflict between the Washington and the federal government, which still views marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.
The Justice Department last year laid out guidelines on how it would prosecute marijuana crimes on the federal level in Washington, stating that it would focus on trafficking, and keeping the drug away from children.
West claims that the memorandum laying out the federal guidelines violated the Constitution, and that the government failed to consider impacts to "the urban and natural environment."
The Washington state defendants moved to dismiss and Judge Bates granted the motion, because the state's conduct is not covered by D.C.'s long-arm statute.