DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has “invited” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to a Sept. 10 hearing, where Holder will be asked to explain what the Obama administration intends to do about marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, and medical laws in 18 other states and the District of Columbia.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, originally asked Holder last December for an administration response, and Holder promised in February it would be coming “relatively soon.”
Leahy wants the federal government to respect the decision by Washington and Colorado voters last November to legalize, regulate and tax the recreational use of cannabis by adults.
“It is important, especially in time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal,” said Leahy. “I believe that these state laws should be respected.
“At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government,” The Sept. 10 hearing will be entitled “Conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws.”
The growing and possession of marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are arrested for possession each year.
In an interview last December, President Obama signaled that busting marijuana users was not a top federal law enforcement priority. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” he said, referring to drug cartels and gangs.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was wordier but on the same page last week, telling a briefing: “The administration’s position on this has been clear and consistent for some time now, that while prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, the president and administration believe that targeting individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources.”