AG Holder: "You Will Hear Soon" How Feds Will React to Legal Marijuana in WA, CO

AG Holder: "You Will Hear Soon" How Feds Will React to Legal Marijuana in WA, CO

WASHINGTON, DC — United States Attorney General Eric Holder says his department is in the final stages of reviewing voter-approved marijuana legalization initiatives in Washington and Colorado to determine federal policy on how the Department of Justice will react.

“You will hear soon,” Holder said Tuesday, speaking at a conference in Washington, DC.  “We’re in the last stages of that review and we’re trying to make a determination as to what the policy ramifications are going to be, what our international obligations are — there are a whole variety of things that go into this determination — but the people of [Colorado] and Washington deserve an answer and you will have one soon.”

Holder oversees the Justice Department, charged with enforcing federal laws – including laws prohibiting marijuana sale, possession or cultivation in the United States. Although voters in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, it remains illegal under federal law, with the potential of a federal vs. state showdown as the states work to allow and regulate commercial sales of cannabis.

Some experts believe the Justice Department will treat recreational marijuana laws differently from state medical marijuana laws. While medical marijuana laws are seen as a somewhat limited encroachment on federal policy, many officials within DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Administration consider recreational marijuana laws to be a full-out assault on federal law.

Holder’s assessment could result in the federal government suing the states over the new laws, mount an all out armed federal assault on state-sanctioned marijuana businesses in Washington and Colorado, or Holder could decide allow state law to take precedent over federal law.

Under Holder’s supervision, the Department of Justice has heavily cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries in growers in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

The feds have conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses under  Holder's supervision. Here, law enforcement commandos descend on a Santa Rosa neighborhood in search of medical marijuana growers in September, 2012.

The feds have conducted more than 200 SWAT-style raids on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses under Holder’s supervision. Here, law enforcement commandos descend on a Santa Rosa neighborhood in search of medical marijuana growers in September, 2012.

During the 2008 presidential elections, candidate Barack Obama said that medical marijuana was an issue for state governments, not the federal government.

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he said at the time.

Since the 2008 elections, the Obama administration has flip-flopped its stance on tolerance of state’s marijuana laws.  In a 2009 memo to federal prosecutors in the then-14 states that allowed medical marijuana, the Justice Department said that it was committed to the “efficient and rational use” of its resources, and that prosecuting patients and distributors who are in “clear and unambiguous compliance” with state medical marijuana laws would not happen.

Two years later, the administration made an abrupt about-face, and began a large scale federal crackdown on medical marijuana providers, beginning with major enforcement efforts in California and Colorado.

In  the wake of the 2012 elections, which saw voters in Washington and Colorado legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults, President Obama said that enforcement of federal marijuana laws in those states would not be a priority.

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” President Obama told ABC News. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”

Meanwhile, legislation has been filed in Congress that would remove marijuana from the federal government’s Schedule I classification, as well as legislation to protect individual states’ rights to legalize the medical or recreational use of marijuana.

  • Mike

    Whatever Mr. Holder says, I hope it reflects the will of the people, and not just the convenience of the ruling elites.

    To continue to treat Americans who enjoy marijuana for recreation or patients who clearly benefit from it as medicine as criminals is a politically untenable position already. It only gets worse from here, in terms of the numbers, as to resist the tide of overwhelming public opinion at either the ballot box or the jury box will simply prove those who insist on continuing prohibition will be found unfit for office.

    We are not the kind of country that makes war on a substantial proportion of our populace when it’s self-evident that a policy no longer enjoys public support because of its entirely counterproductive results…Are we?

    • Robert Proctor

      Sure, Mike, stock up on the cheetos; we’ll join you in a moment.
      Wake up. Whatever Holder says, the Drug War rages on. Obamba is making a federal case of state-sanctioned or state-employed dealers. Those are the “bigger fish” he was talking about. There are too many layers of corruption and deceit in this war for any other way.

      • Mike

        I know that Holder is pretty much just another political operative willing to say virtually anything to achieve some goal at variance with the real interests of the American people. My point was that when he says something that is helpful for us, then we should hold ‘em to it, rather tan pulling the slippery weasel. Politicians often talk about “accountability” and We the People often let them off with a pass. All I’m saying is he swore to protect the Constitution — and as someone else has already noted, he’s not.

        BUT “Hold the Presses!”

        With the sequester now on, it’s obvious the federal government has very limited resources. Obama should sign and Holder should enforce an executive order suspending all enforcement against marijuana while setting up a commission to study hoe to treat — and tax — marijuana like we do with alcohol in order produce extra revenue from this source.

        Gee, I hope some Republican then doesn’t stand up and try to block that, calling it a “tax increase.”

  • Captain Cannabis

    Well, the bastards are busting medi-delivery services out here in Cali, so don’t hold your breath thinking Barack gives two shits about you.

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  • Mike Dee

    Federal Guidance: State Marijuana laws.

    Attorney General Holder should be upholding Amendments IV and V of the Constitution of the United States. He should tell congress that criminalizing marijuana as a controlled substance is unreasonable and unnecessary use of police power depriving the fundamental “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures.” That marijuana does not meet all three criteria to be a controlled substance. Marijuana is safe to use without medical supervision. Marijuana is arbitrarily classified as a controlled substance and violates due process of law.

    If not, then as the top law enforcement officer he is willfully depriving rights to liberty and property under the color of law, for political reasons, without due process of law, a federal crime Title 18 U.S.C. 242.

    Not enforcing the federal marijuana laws is arbitrary power and violates due process of law. Either enforce it or change it.

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  • Patricia Smith

    Hold on to your hats! If Holder lets Colorado and Washington enact their legalization efforts, then he will have to back off of medical marijuana states. I don’t see that happening.

  • Kilo Wyrick

    Eric Holder should be in jail.

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  • Robert Breisch

    Our grand illusion of freedoms to do as we feel we have the right to do through our “democracy” even if we vote something to be legal-the ever invading Obama military of DEA agents-in commando swat style raids will continue.Obama is the oxymoron president-a hypocrite-talking out one side of his mouth to the masses who use pot and out the other to the super con-servatives-that we will not stand for it!
    We are turning away from solving murders-rapes-robberies-kidnappings-to focus on raiding medical marijuana businesses.Shame on the Obama administration!

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