Even if California voters say "Yes" on Nov. 2, the federal government still plans to say, "No."
Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California, even if voters approved Prop 19 -- the ballot measure that would make the state the first in the nation to legalize the marijuana.
The Justice Department strongly opposes California's Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states, Holder wrote in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday.
"We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law," Holder wrote.
The attorney general also said that legalizing recreational marijuana in California would be a "significant impediment" to the government's joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute marijuana alongside cocaine and other drugs.
He said the ballot measure's passage would "significantly undermine" efforts to keep California communities safe.
If Proposition 19 passes in November, California would become the first state to legalize and regulate recreational pot use. Adults could possess up to one ounce of the drug and grow small gardens on private property. Local governments would decide whether to allow and tax sales of the drug.
Under federal law, marijuana is still strictly illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government has the right to enforce its ban regardless of state law.
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