City Desk

Eric Holder, Extreme Drug Warrior

As if his soft stance on corruption wasn't sufficient evidence enough that Eric Holder is a questionable choice for attorney general, there's also his stance on drugs, which during his time as a U.S. Attorney in D.C. was too harsh.

In 1996, Holder proposed cracking down on marijuana users and sellers, a policy perspective which was and—assuming he still holds it—is completely antithetical to President-Elect Barack Obama's promise to end federal crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries.

What kind of legacy did Holder leave? Evidence abounds that the drug war has done nothing to help D.C.'s crime problem. The MPD are still investigating recent violence in Petworth, but it's likely that the crimes have a drug component, just as they do in Trinidad, Anacostia, on Kennedy Street, and in other parts of the District. Turf wars have become part and parcel of the drug trade, and are a direct result of law enforcement artificially driving up prices for drugs and limiting geographic opportunities for transactions.

The Washington Post on Holder's (failed) drug policies in 1996:

U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an interview that he is considering not only prosecuting more marijuana cases but also asking the D.C. Council to enact stiffer penalties for the sale and use of marijuana.

"We have too long taken the view that what we would term to be minor crimes are not important," Holder said, referring to current attitudes toward marijuana use and other offenses such as panhandling.

Now, people arrested in the District and charged with distributing marijuana, even large quantities, face only misdemeanor charges, a standard that has sparked repeated complaints by police officers....

Holder said he hopes to discourage some of that activity by being tougher on marijuana crimes. New guidelines should be in place by the end of the month, he said, noting that the District could learn from New York's "zero-tolerance" policy. There, crime plummeted when police aggressively enforced quality-of-life crimes, including panhandling and public drinking, which gave officers an opportunity to check for drugs, guns and outstanding warrants.

"If you take these so-called minor crimes seriously and treat them fully, it has a ripple effect," Holder said. [h/t to Dave Weigel]

BTW: New York's "zero-tolerance" policy wasn't a reform in any meaningful sense of the word. Instead, it gave the state license to lock away undesirables, of which—by N.Y.'s criteria—D.C. has more than a few.

Anyone care to bet against Holder finding a way to invest more money in the War on Drugs while still fulfilling Obama's promise to end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries? My money says the latter will give them enough political capital to fuck over recreational users across the country.

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  1. #1

    The Awkward Silence on this issue from groups like NORML and others is racist in my eyes.
    I was very involved in The Civil Rights Movement and don't feel I have to prove myself.
    But I wonder if the Silence on this issue from those who should be screaming FOWL! to Obama is some preverted liberal guilt.
    So Obama has given us a Republican House Bill and an archaic thinking Head Lawman In Town.
    I smell betrayal and business as usual and the Same Old Shit coming.
    I hope I am wrong.

  2. Andrew Yu-Jen Wang

    Speaking of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

    Eric Holder is a racial-minority individual, and in his heart and mind he inevitably does not endorse hate crimes committed by George W. Bush.

    George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

    George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

    And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

    Many people know what Bush did.

    And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

    Bush was absolute evil.

    Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

    Bush is a psychological prisoner.

    Bush has a lot to worry about.

    Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

    In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

  3. #3

    It's a little sad that all that Holder seemingly worked for is for naught now. If only he had known about medical marijuana school, he wouldn't have been so harsh on the users.

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