Attorney General Eric Holder is being urged by some of the nation's top law enforcement officials to speak out against ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
Holder should discuss the dangers of legalizing marijuana, said Peter Bensinger, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He joined others in the law enforcement community, including some former directors of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
No way, reacted the Justice Department. Spokeswoman Allison Price said Holder will not "speculate" on the ballot initiatives.
Obviously, Holder and his boss, President Barack Obama, hope that will be taken as a declaration of federal neutrality concerning states' affairs.
But it should be noted that both Holder and Obama have been publicly and consistently critical of selected other state initiatives, most notably some that were attempts to curb illegal immigration. Surely we have not forgotten the enormous federal flap over Arizona's immigration law, which produced no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the federal level and at the White House. After all, Obama and others said, it's the federal government's job to enforce immigration laws, a task that should not be undertaken by individual states.
Obviously Holder and Obama have no problem condemning state actions with which they disagree. Their refusal to speak out on the marijuana issue, then, speaks volumes about how they feel concerning legalization at the state level, regardless of the fact marijuana remains banned by federal law.