Misplaced Priorities At Department Of Justice

by Stuart Shapiro

So I was reading the paper today (yes, I still read the newspaper) and was struck by three articles on the front page.  First was one about how the Department of Justice was pursuing a jail sentence against a grower of medical marijuana in California:

But in a case that highlights the growing clash between the federal government and those states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, the United States Justice Department indicted Mr. Davies six months ago on charges of cultivating marijuana, after raiding two dispensaries and a warehouse filled with nearly 2,000 marijuana plants.

Second was the story of the Internet activist Aaron Swartz killed himself as he became enmeshed in dealing with criminal charges from DOJ regarding his “freeing” of thousands of academic articles that had been behind paywalls

The United States government has a very different view of Mr. Swartz. In 2011, he was arrested and accused of using M.I.T.’s computers to gain illegal access to millions of scholarly papers kept by Jstor, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals.

At his trial, which was to begin in April, he faced the possibility of millions of dollars in fines and up to 35 years in prison, punishments that friends and family say haunted him for two years and led to his suicide.

And finally was a story about how the NRA and gun control activists both agree that DOJ should step up pursuit of those who lie on their background checks for gun permits.

Mr. Arulanandam said that the N.R.A. has “for decades been trying to get prior administrations — Republicans and Democrats — to take action on the matter but there seems to be no will by the Justice Department to enforce existing gun laws.”

So libertarians and conservatives, let’s make a deal.  Let’s all pressure DOJ to leave growers of medical marijuana and internet activists alone and focus on those who violate gun laws.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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