Setting aside the merits of Amendment 44, the DEA's decision to raise $10,000 to hire a professional campaign manager is a heavy-handed use of federal power. Jeff Sweetin, the special agent in charge of the local office, acknowledges that the notice seeking an experienced pro to run the campaign was sent from a Department of Justice e-mail account.
Federal officials are free to offer their opinions about the legality or the wisdom of state political controversies, and that bully pulpit can often sway public opinion. But when agencies organize formal opposition to local or state ballot measures, they're interfering in the local political process. And where would it stop? . . .
Letting federal agencies become political activists in one area invites them to take sides on a host of others. That's why we hope the DEA will abandon this campaign - and that next year, Congress will enact legislation that would prevent any federal agency from pursuing this sort of mischief.
The Colorado Springs Gazette was less reserved:
This thing might pass. Of course, that's just talking through my hat--I haven't seen any polls or anything; in fact, as I've noted before, the two Denver papers have practically ignored the amendment.
Given how badly the so-called war on drugs is going in this country and abroad, one would think that the frontline soldiers in that effort at the Drug Enforcement Agency would have better things to do with their time, manpower and money than to try to sabotage a marijuana-legalization measure on Colorado’s ballot this fall. But hey, maybe it’s the lack of progress on other fronts in the drug war — in Colombia, Afghanistan and Mexico, for instance — that has the drug warriors looking for easier victories closer to home . . . .
We question the DEA’s credibility as an honest broker of information . . . given the agency’s record of selectively presenting the facts in a way that bolster its opposition to drug legalization and medical marijuana use, and given the overzealous way the DEA has gone after doctors and patients that do believe in marijuana’s medical benefits, even in states that have approved such uses. It’s also impossible to see the DEA as a disinterested party in the debate, given that the agency depends for its existence on the government’s prohibition against certain drugs.
Update: Just noticed that Nevada has a ballot measure, Question 7, that would do basically the same thing as Amendment 44, but goes further in containing some vagueish language about the future taxation and regulation of the devil weed. I have no idea what its chances are.
Update II: All these pothead organizations have such practical-sounding names, don't they? SAFER. Sensible Colorado. RegulateMarijuana.org. You'd never know that they just want to mess with your mind. (Poster found at the unsurprisingly goth The Doors Collectors Magazine.)
Update III: According to the burnouts at the SAFER blog (who apparently think permalinks are, like, square), the Aspen Daily News actually did conduct an online poll of Amendment 44, and guess what? It passed in a landslide, 71 to 29 percent. Everybody knows that online polls of the ski bum demographic invariably predict voting trends statewide, right?