While many states are starting to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, the military is scaling up its training in some regions to combat the drug while also controversially working with local police.
A recent video showed the National Guard teaming up with state police at the Atterbury-Muscatatuck Training Center in Indiana to practice drug enforcement exercises.
The video depicts the military using Blackhawk choppers to conduct exercises relating to drug raids. Troops are also shown trekking through a forest with full assault gear along with Indiana state police.
The scale up in military enforcement is a contradiction Chuck Rosenberg’s election as DEA chief
Chuck Rosenberg, the newly elected chief of the DEA, is thought to have a much more lenient policy on marijuana enforcement compared to his predecessor, Michele Leonhart. Leonhart was notorious for standing by the DEA’s Schedule I classification of the drug and for overseeing numerous marijuana raids on legitimate medical marijuana clinics during her long tenure at the agency.
The recent scale up in joint police and military operations to combat the drug is a stark contrast to the expectations that some have of Rosenberg, however it is unclear of the DEA’s role, if any, in the exercise. Rosenberg was quoted as saying that he wanted to improve the procedures of the DEA on classifying its drugs including marijuana, and a senior administration official believed that Rosenberg would scale down the war on marijuana
Some believe that it is a violation of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act
The Posse Comitatus Act, passed by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878, limits the federal government in using its powers to act as domestic enforcement officers. Many believe that the joint exercise in Indiana was a direct violation of the act. However, the law is regularly violated when there are interstate fugitives and during issues of national security.
The Indiana State Police mentioned that the exercise was focused on marijuana enforcement
Sergeant Lou Perras of the Indiana State Police mentioned that the training was focused on marijuana enforcement, and that the intention was to, “bridge the gap between the DOD and non-DOD organizations.” With that statement, it is clear that the Indiana State Police are not hiding the fact that they are allied with the federal government to enforce their state’s drug laws.
The exercise symbolizes clear opposition to the steps that many states have taken toward scaling down the failed War on Drugs and decriminalizing marijuana possession. Perhaps the most unsettling fact is that there was no clear or logical reason why the state police and military felt the need to perform such an exercise.