Politics & Other Mistakes: Blowing smoke

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It’s a little late, but I’ve finally come up with my New Year’s resolution:

Commit more crimes.

And not just any crimes. Federal crimes.

Kidnapping. Mail fraud. Interstate littering.

Engaging in these illegal activities makes so much sense that I expect many otherwise solid citizens to join my gang of novice hoodlums, once I make them aware that this type of civil disobedience isn’t about personal gain. It’s about setting government priorities, specifically those of Maine’s U.S. attorney.

As you probably know, Jeff Sessions, a garden gnome somehow transformed into the U.S. attorney general, has decided to reverse the Obama administration’s policy that called for the feds to take a hands-off approach to state laws legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Instead, Sessions has freed his minions to engage in whatever mischief they wish.

Or as Sessions put it in a memo written in gnome gibberish, “Given the Department’s well-established general principles, previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately.”

What that means is that U.S. attorneys in each state are free to deal with pot according to their whims. They can limit their prosecutions to black-market dealers. They can bust medical marijuana dispensaries. They can break down the doors of cancer patients using edible cannabinoids to ease their suffering. And anyone inhaling that drug for the fun of it had better consider turning themselves in if they hope for judicial mercy.

What does Maine’s U.S. attorney intend to do with this new-found mandate to harass ordinary citizens?

This would be an easier question to answer if anybody knew who Maine’s U.S. attorney is. But in a quick survey I didn’t bother to conduct, 99 out of 100 people had no clue. The other respondent thought it was Perry Mason.

In fact, Google informs me, the position is held by somebody named Halsey B. Frank, who I would assume we could expect to “be frank” with us about the new policy. Unfortunately, Frank has been anything but, instead issuing a statement saying his office would “proceed on a case-by-case basis,” while focusing “on those who pose the greatest threat to the people and communities that we serve.”

That doesn’t mean Frank doesn’t intend to meddle with your mellow. Before he was appointed to his post last year by our, like, really smart president, he wrote an ominous column for The Forecaster in 2013: “Maine’s medical marijuana law is not a defense to federal prosecution for manufacturing or distributing marijuana,” he said. “It may mislead people into trouble.”

Hence, we can conclude that Frank is, at best, going to be an annoyance and, at worst, a tool. Unless, that is, he’s way too busy dealing with serious crimes to even consider taking away Grannie’s medicine.

That’s where my resolution to commit federal illegalities comes in. Once I start counterfeiting Benjamins, wiretapping my neighbors, carjacking Teslas and bashing in Postal Service mailboxes (they still have those, right?), Frank is going to find his resources stretched thin in halting this wave of lawlessness.

Add on art theft from a museum (yep, for some reason, that’s federal), credit card fraud and obscenity (really, that’s a @#$%!* federal crime?), and old Halsey won’t have time to pull up a pot plant if it’s growing in a window box outside his office. Those of you inclined toward committing RICO violations, engaging in identity theft and evading income taxes should join the fun, after which anyone will be able to smoke a doobie on the courthouse steps without fear of Frank’s interference.

Sadly, I have to admit that, as entertaining as engaging in a federal crime wave would be, it might be unnecessary. Frank and other U.S. attorneys are unlikely to pursue a widespread campaign against cannabis, not because they’ve had a change of heart about enforcing laws that make no sense, but because of a factor even more despicable than crime.


An overwhelming majority of Mainers support medical marijuana. A somewhat smaller, but still significant majority favor recreational dope. And with the exception of a few prudes, nearly everyone in the state believes in leaving people who aren’t bothering anyone else alone. If Frank know beans, he’s aware that any concerted anti-pot effort on his part will produce a nasty backlash at the ballot box, one that could result in a new Congress inclined to change federal marijuana law.

My resolution may be rendered moot. And I was so looking forward to violating the Espionage Act.

Just in case, email your commitment to bail me out to aldiamon@herniahill.net.