Department of Justice Keeping Mum About Marijuana Subcommittee
Heard about the Justice Department’s mysterious marijuana subcommittee?
The group, headed up by Michael Murray, counsel to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the group is re-evaluating federal prosecutors’s marijuana policies. It’s part of a larger task force review of violent crime led by the led by department official Steve H. Cook. Its report is expected to be issued on July 27.
However, little else is known about it. The Justice Department declined US News & World Report’s request to learn more about who else is serving on the subcommittee and how they’re going about the policy review.
Murray, a 2009 graduate of Yale Law School, is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia who previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In the June issue of Freedom Leaf, Allen St. Pierre profiled Cook in his article about Trump’s drug warriors, “The Sinister Seven”:
Appointed by Sessions as a senior official in the Justice Department, Steven Cook is a former cop who rose to prominence as a U.S. Attorney in Tennessee. Like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he wants to swing drug policy back to the Just Say No cliché of the 1980s, when “we started filling prisons with the worst of the worst,” he said in 2016. “If hardline means my focus is on protecting communities from violent felons and drug traffickers, then I’m guilty. I don’t think that’s hardline. I think that’s exactly what the American people expect of their Department of Justice.”
Cook also opposed the department’s reductions of mandatory-minimum sentences during Obama’s tenure. “We were discouraged from using mandatory minimums,” he complained. “The charging memo handcuffed prosecutors. And it limited when enhancements can be used to increase penalties, an important leverage when you’re dealing with a career offender in getting them to cooperate.”
He added: “Drug trafficking is inherently violent. Drug traffickers are dealing in a heavy cash business. They can’t resolve disputes in court. They resolve disputes in the street, and they resolve them through violence.”
The Associated Press describes Cook as a “zealous prosecutor” and “unabashed drug warrior” with “hardline views on criminal justice.” He helped write the department’s new policy urging full-force prosecution for low-level drug offenses, something that former Attorney General Eric Holder had pulled back from.
“For me, it’s like the world is turned upside down,” Cook told the AP. “We now somehow see these drug traffickers as the victims. That’s just bizarre to me.”