The Department of Justice said it wasn’t going to challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. But apparently, the feds felt the need to throw their weight around a little bit with six weeks to go before the first retail marijuana outlets officially open in the Centennial State.
According to the Denver Post, the feds raided more than a dozen Denver area medical marijuana businesses and two homes.
In the largest federal raid on Colorado marijuana businesses since medical marijuana became legal, federal law enforcement agents with an assist from local police officers executed search and seizure warrants at multiple dispensaries and cultivation facilities — at least a dozen in Denver alone.
But what was obviously meant as a show of force actually demonstrates the true weakness of the federal government.
Notice, this was a massive operation – the largest raids since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado. They hit about 12 shops in Denver metro. That might sound pretty impressive until you consider that about 400 such businesses operate in the Denver area alone.
In other words, the feds impacted about 3 percent of the medical marijuana businesses in Denver – one single city in a state of 5.2 million people.
A major snowstorm causes more disruption than that!
And consider this.
“…federal law enforcement agents with an assist from local police officers…”
The gun-toting federal snowflakes couldn’t even pull off this “massive” operation on their own. They depended on help from local law enforcement – to disrupt less than 3 percent of the medical marijuana business in one city.
And if history provides any indication, the businesses that the feds raided will likely reopen within days. It happens all the time in California.
The feds just spent a vast amount of money and expended tremendous resources to disrupt that paltry 3 percent of currently-operating businesses. Americans for Safe Access calculates that a direct raid on a medical marijuana dispensary costs around $300,000 and investigative costs run about $12 million per raid. That means the DEA just spent roughly $3.6 million on the raids themselves – plus investigative costs! Even if we play generous and assume that all 12 raids fell within the same investigative umbrella, that still means the DEA just blew $15.6 million.
I can’t emphasize this enough: 3 percent. In one city. In one state.
The annual DEA budget runs about $2.87 billion. It wouldn’t take too many investigations and raids to wipe that out. In fact, shutting down all the dispensaries in Denver alone would cost more than twice the total DEA budget.
The timing of these raids indicates the feds wanted to make a point. They did. They are feckless. They’re failing. They’re lashing out while fighting a losing battle.
We can pull a couple of valuable lessons from this latest DEA crackdown.
First, Noncompliance works. All of that effort and all of that money expended for an insignificant impact in a single city. Now consider 21 states with legal medical marijuana, plus Colorado and Washington with full legalization. That’s hundreds of cities and millions of people. The federal government cannot stop marijuana when states legalize it. State legalization effectively nullifies the unconstitutional federal prohibition on weed.The feds can’t even put a dent in it. Not even a scratch. An anonymous source told the Denver Post that they went after these particular businesses in Colorado because “one of eight federal concerns around marijuana have potentially been violated.” Apparently the DEA was looking into links to “Columbian drug cartels.”
That is even more telling. It indicates that it will require tremendous resources for the feds to even enforce federal law within the eight targeted areas.
And consider the impact if state and local law enforcement refuses to cooperate. States with any form of legalized marijuana should immediately direct state and local law enforcement to stand down. If the feds want to enforce federal laws, let them try to do it themselves.
I hope you heard the paper tiger roar, because that’s all you’re gonna get.
Latest posts by Mike Maharrey (see all)
- States Should Help Bring Down Obamacare - January 8, 2017
- Why Libertarians Should Support “States’ Rights” - January 6, 2017
- Tench Coxe on State vs Federal Power under the Constitution - November 29, 2016