Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Doug blogged over at SL&P last Friday about a notable district court opinion on federal drug sentencing. In the lengthy opinion, Judge James Browning makes an argument in defense of the federal drug sentencing guidelines (responding in large part to an opinion by Judge Gleeson taking the other side.)
Though the case involves methamphetamine, Judge Browning makes an interesting comment about marijuana legalization in a footnote (footnote 23):
This observation seems particularly true in light of the DOJ’s recent policy announcement not to spend its resources going after the marijuana dealers and growers who are acting consistent with Colorado’s new marijuana laws. This decision not to prosecute wealthy large-scale Anglo distributors in Colorado--on New Mexico’s northern border--calls into question whether the Court should mete out large sentences to poor backpackers from Mexico--on New Mexico’s southern border--bussing over bundles of marijuana.
The bservation reminds me of concerns raised by Michelle Alexander last month about legalizaiton and racial disparity, arguing that white men are getting rich while black men stay in prison. And, of course, it also echoes the concerns some Latin American leaders have also expressed about fighting a war to keep marijuana out of the United States when it is now legal to use and sell the substance in Colorado and Washington.