Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

When it comes to marijuana the feds have the final word

Post by Brian O'Neill on July 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm with 13 Comments »
August 1, 2011 10:29 am

The old story, medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, is the new story.  Or is it?

Lately, the debate on legalized marijuana is bearing a striking resemblance to the hokey-pokey. With state and local governments calling the dance, dispensers are taking their open signs in and then taking them back out on almost a weekly basis. It’s hard to keep track.

Seattle has chosen sides. After a city council resolution to minimize the priority of marijuana possession crimes, it comes as no surprise that the city appears to be welcoming medical marijuana merchants.

Tacoma, well, not so much. Mayor Strickland appears to be saying no in a recent Trib article, but the negative doesn’t seem to have much of a punch. At question is whether or not there will be any enforcement on the current dispensaries.

What, exactly, is going on? The roadblock, or the grease, depending upon your point of view, is the federal government.

The federal government has purview over all scheduled narcotics, and knowing feds as I do, they’re not likely to give up any enforcement powers. Despite many western states’ attempts to legalize marijuana, either for medicinal or general use (CA, CO for example), the federal government is not a fan of cannabis. Congress’ makeup includes representatives from many states not inclined towards legalization, so any future that includes legalized marijuana will have to arrive through a lengthy congressional process.

This means that advocates in states more favorable towards legislation will need to put a few miles on their wheels and go east. That’s where the hearts and minds appear dead set against legalization. In the meantime, it’s a no go.

No matter what gets decided at our state and local levels, until our national government changes it’s mind there will be federal agents fully authorized and capable of serving a search warrant on any and every marijuana “dispensary” (note: those are federal quotes) in Tacoma, Seattle or any other city.

So no matter how the local efforts go, marijuana growers may only perceive a subtle difference when the cops come busting through their doors. The shirts will likely say “DEA.”

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. UnbiasedReporter says:

    Time for a 10th Amendment battle –

    The Tenth Amendment states the Constitution’s principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states by the Constitution are reserved, respectively, to the states or the people.

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    The only reason Gregoire vetoed the MJ bill was that the Feds threatened to do raids.

  3. moms4marijuana says:

    Curious that the conservative up-in-arms about state’s rights groups are silent on this.

    Mr. O’Neill is somewhat flippant about voter nullification. It’s a very serious offense in my mind, certainly a bigger threat to this country’s democracy than selling painkillers to cancer patients.

    What is there, something like 200,000 swat raids a year? Are the DOJ and the DEA waging a war on its citizens?

    The DEA, the DOJ, and the federal government have bosses. It is the American people. The American people, at least in the state of Washington, have voted to approve the medical use of cannabis. Are we living in a police state?

  4. Brian O'Neill says:

    The issue is states’ rights vs. Federal law. No matter what is allowed in WA, the Feds have separate authority. It’s a matter for US Congress if you want to stop federal agents from enforcing the law.

  5. What UnbiasedReporter said…

  6. moms4marijuana says:

    ‘No matter what gets decided at our state and local levels, until our national government changes it’s mind there will be federal agents fully authorized and capable of serving a search warrant on any and every marijuana “dispensary” (note: those are federal quotes) in Tacoma, Seattle or any other city.’

    That’s not entirely true. Senators Murray and Cantwell could lose their jobs long before the national government decides to govern as the people have instructed them to. Would I be surprised at a throwing out of office over a little thing like medical marijuana legislation? Nothing surprised me any more.

    Back to poly sci class for you, Mr. O’Neill.

  7. notSpicoli says:

    I-502 (NAW) and their cadre of ACLU lawyers, John McKay and others legal minds are poised to deal with federal preemption challenge. Their position is that Initiative 502 is not preempted by federal law.

  8. I’m labeled “very conservative, Republican, and Tea Bagger” (although I don’t affiliate with any of those groups.). However, I fully support legalization of MJ. Visit and support Sensible WA Campaign if you do. Get MJ out of MX cartels, tax it, sell it like booze, taxes estimated here in WA probably $200-300 million a year. It would almost make all of this federal “debt crisis” nonsense a non-issue. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on WA DC by cities and states to end this ridiculous over-step of the Feds.

  9. Brian O'Neill says:

    Moms4marijuana- Despite your recommendation, I am not sure what benefit I would get from a political science lecture. My real world experience makes it clear that federal agents have the authority to conduct investigations, write search warrants and make arrests at state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. I have seen it happen. Federal agents enforce federal law, and federal law is more restrictive than state law in the case of WA state’s current code on marijuana.

    Though I don’t understand or agree with your comments, they are appreciated.

  10. ConservativeChristian says:

    Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.
    If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let’s put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. Let’s let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.
    Here’s one way that IT IS REALLY WORKING: Arresting the criminals and collecting a fee from the registered growers (and bringing in thousands of dollars to support the county budget); what a great plan! This is the way to build a better America!
    The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will allow states to decide how they will regulate marijuana. Email your Congressperson and Senators at and ask them to sign on as a CO-SPONSOR of HR 2306.
    And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!

  11. notSpicoli says:

    “Visit and support Sensible WA Campaign if you do.”

    Please do, but also, check out New Approach Washington (NAW) which is sponsoring I-502.

    It is highly organized, has big name sponsors in all professional areas, and almost assuredly will get enough signatures.

  12. Brian O'Neill says:


    Thanks for your comments. If you look back through my blogs you will see that there are numerous dedicated to the marijuana legalization issue. I personally don’t have a preference on this topic, and frankly, I’ve run out of steam on it. Best of luck.

  13. duke_of_hurl says:

    the taxing of MJ and also an easier death penalty for rapists and cold blooded murderers would help our debt..oh yeah the expensive war..

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