CNN: Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN Sunday she supports legalizing marijuana. The trend-setting state of California is voting next month on a ballot initiative to legalize pot, also known as Proposition 19. The measure would legalize recreational use in the state, though federal officials have said they would continue to enforce drug laws in California if the initiative is approved. “What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people. And we use so many of our excellent resources … for things that aren’t really causing any problems,” said Elders. “It’s not a toxic substance.” MORE

LA WEEKLY: Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the U.S. government will “vigorously enforce” federal law against marijuana if California voters elect to legalize the drug next month. In a letter to former administrators of the DEA, Holder stated that the Department of Justice “strongly opposes Proposition 19.” “If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens,” Holder wrote. “Regardless of the passage of this or similar legislation, the Department of Justice will remain firmly committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in all states.” MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: The Los Angeles County sheriff, Lee Baca, who has been one of the leading opponents of the measure, quickly embraced the Justice Department’s stance. He said that the initiative was unconstitutional and vowed to continue enforcing marijuana laws, no matter what voters do in November. MORE

RELATED: In two weeks, Californians will decide whether to legalize small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, in a vote that polls show could be close. Now, for a change in the drug war, it is Mexico wondering about the possible spillover, this time of an idea. Will such a bold step by its neighbor to the north add momentum to a burgeoning movement here for broad drug legalization? The backdrop is the drug war, which has left Americans worrying about many of the ills that spill over the border: kidnappings, murders and, of course, drugs themselves. At the same time, Mexicans chafe at the guns flowing in from the States, the nearly 30,000 people killed in drug-related violence here in the past four years and the American demand and consumption that largely sustain the drug trade. Small steps toward legalization have already been taken on both sides of the border. California, where medical marijuana has been legal under state law since 1996, this month made the punishment for possessing small amounts of the drug the equivalent of a speeding ticket instead of a misdemeanor. Last year Mexico removed the penalty for possessing small quantities of a range of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and marijuana, though selling or producing them remain prohibited. MORE

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