September 13th, 2010
04:02 PM ET
4 years ago

Former DEA heads unite against California plan to legalize marijuana

Washington (CNN) - California's proposal to legalize marijuana has provoked every former director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to join in urging the White House to block the proposition if it is approved on the November ballot.

Proposition 19 is billed as a measure to raise revenue and cut the costs of enforcement. An analysis by the California attorney general's office cites "additional revenues from taxes, assessments, and fees from marijuana-related activities allowed under this measure."

But former DEA Administrator Peter Bensinger disputed the premise, telling reporters Monday it will not increase revenue since "anybody that sells marijuana and then pays tax is going to declare themselves a violator of federal law" and subject to prosecution.

Bensinger and the eight other people who have led the DEA since its founding in 1973 wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to use the federal "supremacy clause" to pre-empt such lawmaking by state and local jurisdictions.

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Filed under: California • Eric Holder
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Fnordtastic

    "anybody that sells marijuana and then pays tax is going to declare themselves a violator of federal law" and subject to prosecution.

    easy fix, just abolish the federal law and let states decide for themselves. There is no good reason for Pot to be illegal, besides protecting the finacial intrests of big lumber, the prison industry, the oil industry, and big pharma.

    Dont agree with me, then prove me wrong.

    September 13, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. JANUARY 20, 2013 - THE END OF AN ERROR

    If you have ever spent more than two minutes in your life trying to justify a compelling reason for the legalization marijuana, then you are a total loser.

    And in all likelihood you are a Democrat.

    September 13, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    In their letter to Holder, the former DEA officials cited the Obama administration's National Drug Control Strategy, which says in part, "Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them."

    What planet does this guy live on? All keeping drugs illegal does is enrich the prison-industrial complex and fuel drug industry related violence. What a bunch of idiots. Have a nice day!

    September 13, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. water bearer

    Well of course they are. They know that if this catches on and more states come to their senses and legalize marijuana because the "war" against it is a drain on our economy, the DEA will soon have it's budget cut and some of these directors might find themselves out of a job! He-he . . . and all you TeaPublicans thinkUnions are the bad guys!

    September 13, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. Shucks

    All these guys are worried about is their jobs. Marijuanna should be legal, taxed, and used to pay off the deficit and help all the states who are in financial ruin. I have never, ever heard of anyone overdosing on Marijuanna, yet daily there are hundreds of deaths caused from alcohol poisoning bought locally at your hometown liquor store. This country just astounds and defies natural intelligence at every turn. Other progressive countries are using the sale and distribution of marijuanna to pay for everything from social programs, to green energy projects. The revenue would be incredible, and the illegal trafficking of marijuanna would come to a halt. How stupid can we be?

    September 13, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Jack

    I find it interesting that the Obama administration is yelling at Arizona because they say Federal Law trumps state law while ignoring California Penal Code 834B which says virtually the same thing the Arizona code says and to top it all off they ignore the fact that Federal Drug laws make marijuana illegal yet they allow several states to sell it legally (California, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington and Oregon among them). Double standards available if your state votes for the administration...but then what do you expect from an executive branch that has members that somehow forget to pay their taxes?

    September 13, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Kevin

    This is not good. Bring together this many backward thinking people and change will never happen. When will we learn?

    September 13, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. Michael

    We all understand the DEA is afraid of losing its funding. But let's remember the purpose of the DEA is to combat illegal drug trafficking.
    Legalizing some currently illegal drugs would take a burden off the DEA and allow them to focus on more urgent tasks (e.g. taking out the violent cartels on the border). Besides, other sectors of the economy need the money a lot more than the DEA does.

    September 13, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. jeff, alabama

    There's no telling what a racist, bigotted, backward,
    corrupt, scandalous, drug invested, out of control
    spending, heterosexual hating, ignorant minded,
    redneck loving, weak college football playing,
    crackpot inhabited state like California will try to legalize next.
    By the way, no offense intended to any Californians
    out there. We all just love the heck out of you.

    September 13, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Common Sense

    Legalization is socially and economically irresponsible. It's already been proven time and again allover the globe and even in Alaska at one point. Marijuana is a bad deal. Just because it's main stream doesn't make it right.

    September 13, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Tony

    We need to legalize all drugs just as Portugal did and successfully decreased addiction.

    September 13, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. richard in Montana

    The DEA has been extorting money from taxpayers for long enough with their so called war on drugs with little effect on the supply and demand and have caused untold millions of people grievous permanent harm with incarceration for simple possession. How many more billions of dollars are we going to waste on such screwed up law enforcement?

    September 13, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. Rob in MO

    Yeah, their approach to illegal drugs has worked so well!!!

    September 13, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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