Changing of the Guard at DOJ

Changing of the Guard at DOJ

The recent confirmation of Loretta Lynch as the none-too-soon successor to the current Commissar Attorney General of the United States engendered a lot of speculation about whether or not the exit of “Fast and Furious” Holder will also spell the end of Operation Choke Point. In a Senate hearing, Ms. Lynch was less than enlightening on this point.

In response to questions by Senator Mark Lee, a Chock Point critic, she sounded positively tepid.

Lynch told the senator that should she be confirmed, she would work with him to ensure that law-abiding Americans aren’t targeted by the initiative.

“I look forward to hearing your concerns and working with you on them,” she said.

Let’s hope that when she uses the term “working with you” she doesn’t really mean “working you over.” Time will tell.

On another issue, however, she differs markedly from her boss, the Department of Justice, and FinCEN, which have been falling all over themselves to aid the heirs to Cheech and Chong to light up their bongs. Unlike Barack, Loretta loathes the demon weed.

A federal prosecutor in New York, Ms. Lynch told the Senate Committee on the Judiciary she disagreed with the president’s no-big-deal take on pot, saying, “I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance.”

“I think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share,” Ms. Lynch said. “But I can tell you that not only do I not support the legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization. Nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general.”

A stated opposition to “legalizing” marijuana could be read as merely opposing legalization at the federal level. In addition, personally opposing legalization, even at the state level, does not necessarily translate into abandoning the current position of the DOJ as embodied in the “Cole Memorandum” and its spawn at the DOJ and FinCEN. That position appears to be that as long as a state-legal marijuana business doesn’t run afoul of eight listed activities which the DOJ thinks are “really, really bad” (as opposed to being mere “really bad”), then federal law enforcement will look away. In the case of banks that service such “legal/illegal” businesses, as long as they file special super-secret SARs and perform initial and ongoing due diligence with a level of detail that would confound the NSA, the Feds will cut them a break, as well.
Pot’s proponents claim that we should not take Ms. Lynch seriously. They note that she was testifying before a committee chaired by the marijuana-repulsed Chuck Grassley. I guess their point might be that she was “spinning” (i.e., committing perjury).
Assuming, however, that she was actually delivering her honest opinion to Senator Grassley, I think that Ms. Lynch’s arrival on the scene may bode ill for the “three monkeys approach” to the future enforcement of federal drug laws against businesses that are engaged in state-legal-federal-illegal marijuana businesses. “Looking the other way” might prove to be a thing of the past for the DOJ, even before a Republican AG takes office in 2017 (should a Republican win the White House in 2016).
Moreover, the rogue banks in Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere, who, in banking marijuana businesses, have been operating under the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” benevolence of the FDIC and other federal banking regulators who take their cues from the head of the Executive branch (although they would deny that allegation until the end of time), may find that the examiners who have been giving them “tacit approval” to bank marijuana businesses as long as they don’t make that fact public are suddenly attacked by fits of rectitude and begin to take federal drug trafficking laws seriously again. If that happens, good luck with holding the agencies to their “tacit” approval.

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