Congressman Polis' Grills Attorney General Holder About Fed's Medical Marijuana Policies

Update: Huffington Post article and C-Span video.

I’ve spoken to two reporters today inquiring about Colorado Congressman Jared Polis’ medical cannabis-related questions to Attorney General Holder at a congressional committee hearing that was otherwise a ‘bloodbath’ for Holder—getting grilled about the guns and Mexico fiasco—when Polis, who is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, was allowed to ask Holder two questions about medical cannabis enforcement.
Generally written…
Polis first wanted assurances that Colorado’s medical cannabis dispensaries/cultivation centers compliant with state laws—unlike California’s medical cannabis businesses that are not regulated by the state—are not a Department of Justice (DOJ) target. Holder affirmed the basic tenets of the previous Ogden and Cole memos, and wouldn’t provide assurances, but, re-iterated the DOJ stance that enforcing medical cannabis laws, notably in a state like Colorado with its rules and regulations, and with limited federal resources at hand, is a low law DOJ enforcement priority.
The second Polis question was about banking and medical cannabis businesses in Colorado, where he pushed Holder to acknowledge that the DOJ is not placing a priority on interfering with state compliant medical cannabis businesses and banking concerns.
I assume there will be news and industry coverage later today and tomorrow about this unexpected, but informative exchange between Representative Polis and Attorney General Holder.

69 thoughts

  1. Turn on the lights, and watch the cockroaches run.
    I live in Washington,and hope we can use Colorado’s success as a foundation for our laws.
    Thank you Rep.Jared Polis for all your effort.

  2. Like i said, ”It’s a choice between GOD and i. And since GOD gave it to all men,what makes you think you (Man) has the right to tell another yes or no? Did someone MAKE you GOD’S oppointed sheriff of the universe? I think not! I have GOD’S permission, thanks anyhow. Mess with GOD and he will mess with you. Ask the feds.

  3. Unfortunately none of Holder’s explanations changes the fact that hundreds of state compliant dispensaries in California have been targeted by the U.S. attorneys and forced to shut down.

  4. You know, we’re having a lot of issues with the legalize gay movement. I can’t imagine the public backlash (from the opposition and even support) on regulated cannabis. I know eventually we’ll have legal gay and pot, but it’s an uphill battle for sure. Hell three supreme judges were voted out in Iowa after legalizing gay.

  5. Smoke n toke…one other God related thought. even He ultimately failed(or suceeded)(depending oh His actual objective) at prohibition(forbidden fruit) and He attempted it at a time when there were only two people

  6. The 2012 election will tell the tale. The Republicans traditionally support prohibition and the current frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich, has indicated he would double down on the enforcement of prohibition laws if elected. President Obama, despite what he has said in the past, now says legalization is a topic worth debating. The millions of voters who use marijuana will find it in their best interests to support Obama. We must keep in mind that 2012 will be the tipping point in the long fight against the failed 19th century policy of prohibition, a policy that those who believe in liberty and personal freedom are honor and duty bound to oppose with every fiber of their being and every vote that they cast.

  7. Attorney General Holder can play ignorant on guns going to Mexico, but sure knows whats going on with MARIJUANA PROHIBITION. Just another puppet under FEDERALISM not with just a BLANK CHECK but with a MENTALITY THAT GOES BLANK protected by FEDERALISM. When a FED is cornered like a rat in a cage, they can spew lies and get away with it, just like a MONARCHY with BANANA REPUBLIC RULES.

  8. Seems to me California should look into passing regulations patterned on Colorado (and other unattacked states).
    Of course, this assumes we can believe something a prohibitionist just told us.

  9. Holder makes me sick-he made millions defending Purdue-makers of Oxycontin. Oxycontin killed my husband because after he was hospitalized he could no longer medicate with MMJ. Notice he says he will not provide assurance. I know someone in Colorado who could greatly benefit from MMJ but she is scared to death. Holder is always somehow associated with groups with vested interest in prohibition between the guns and the RX companies. Holder is dangerous & devious-remember this is the same guy who could be prosecuting Wall Street-but he doesnt cause Obama 2012 needs those peoples $$$ to fund election. Follow the money.

  10. Obama supported MMJ in his first campaign, look where that got us! Ron Paul seems to be a man very strong in his opinions and I believe him and Gary Johnson would be the ticket. We brag about our constitution and I believe Ron Paul would do everything in his power to put the constitution back in Government!

  11. I watched some of the grilling Eric Holder took over the Fast and Furious Debacle. That episode will not end well for the AG. I think of Eric in terms of a bully boy that is getting beat down by stronger bullies. Cracking down on California’s Medical marijuana dispensaries is just easy pickings for the government. It of course is wrong. What really worries me is the fact that the IRS is denying legitimate expenses of rent, wages, supplies, fees, ect. that cannabis dispensaries are allowed to take when filling out their taxes. That alone will completely destroy ALL dispensaries. Welcome back to the world of the criminal element controlling the manufacturing,distribution, and sale of marijuana.

  12. I also wanted to post that it is extremely important to get involved with politics and express your concerns about legalizing marijuana to the politicians. Millions of cannabis consumers need to step up and let our LEADERS know we are not going to put up with Prohibition ANY longer. Power to the People!

  13. Eric Holder and Mr. Obama have both partaken of the Koolaid. The piles of cash heaped upon them by lobbyists for the biggest corporations-supporting oppression.
    UNTIL we REMOVE corporate contributions to politics, in general, WE THE PEOPLE” will NEVER count.
    WE can’t win fighting their money
    WE WILL WIN BECAUSE WE ARE RIGHT-
    “NO MAN CAN PUT ASUNDER WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN”..Cannabis will outlive all of us-
    Legislating behavior has never worked-nor will it ever.
    So blindly continuing to support the failed policies of the past only serves to make our government LOOK as FOOLISH as it IS.

  14. Colorado did something wise; they incorporated their state’s Medical Cannabis laws INTO the State constitution by allowing verbiage for “taxation, Distribution and other items of relevance. California did nothing of the sort and that is why the Feds are giving them grief. (Or so they say)-Don’t get me wrong, Colorado is next-BECAUSE their laws are inextricably linked to the constitution of the State-they thought it would render them “safe” but that, itself is a subjective word. Just like the laws themselves-open to interpretation,it seems.
    This entire abuse of Justice and Government is SPECIFICALLY WHAT OUR BILL OF RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTION ARE (SUPPOSED TO) PREVENT—

  15. All this is crap for the feds,and what about Obama? a few pardons are well and good with everthing else. But saying that mj should be considered sounds like a rerun for re-election. Notice this all is coming out now? no tricks this time not for me. If he legalizes first then we might consider,maybe. After all he knew what they were doing to start with and if he did’nt he should have before and maybe all this could have been avoided. Replace all non-violent cannabis users with Obama and all his minions. (TREASON ) hung by hemp rope or imprisonment.
    [Editor’s note: Advocating killing people who support Cannabis Prohibition is far worse than Prohibition. Give the violent rhetoric a break because it is such a stupidly self-inflicted wound to visit upon an otherwise politically successful and peaceful reform movement.
    Leave the violence to the ignorant and uninformed.]

  16. Wondering whether or not it may be wise to maintain your affiliation to any one of the estimated sixteen currently-active Mexican Drug Cartels? Then maybe you should consider the following information very carefully:
    As a gesture of good will vis-à-vis cross-border relations, key members of the American Federal Government have recently pledged a solemn oath, declaring a continuation of their willingness to encourage people like yourself to increase performance and productivity. In particular, the United States Department of Justice will guarantee you achieve a respectful level of technology in both military grade weapons and equipment while actively facilitating the laundering of that swirling cascade of cash that a business like yours invariably and continually generates.
    Still not convinced that during prohibition the phenomenal benefits of remaining an international drug criminal far outweigh the remotely possible, negative consequences? Here’s another recent DOJ announcement, and this time written personally by their principal corporate attorney who’s main priority is keeping himself out of jail:
    “For nearly three years, I have been privileged to work closely with many of the most ruthless organizations to the south of our border. I am extremely proud of our record of abuse, fraud, waste and misconduct, and I pledge a continuation of all such policies that will further weaken our national security and compromise all honest efforts of law enforcement.”
    – Attorney General Holder.
    Some people, it appears, have absolutely no problem being simultaneously absurd and very evil.
    Must we wait for a complete economic collapse to regain our “unalienable­” rights?
    Or is it high time we all stood up and told our government that we’re pooped at being beaten and jailed in order that unconscionable Transnational Corporations can continue to addict & poison us for obscene profits?
    “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  17. Yea, If the polesmoker had the funds and nothing better to do, it would be open season on medical cannabis in ALL states regardless of the medical use laws, Vote and get your local backstabber`s OUT of Office!

  18. I really feel that a decent percentage of people that comment on this site are representative of the type of smoker that holds the reform movement back more than anything else. Spouting off with weak conspiracy theory rhetoric, repetitive slogans that are not intelligent and usually only barely applicable to the topic at hand, and nearly every one of these people demonstrates that they have no basic grasp of the basic capitalization and grammar concepts that any average second grader is expected to have mastered.
    Why is this important? Because these are the people sending emails to their representatives, in turn representing the reform movement itself. These are the people that would rather see an oppressive politician like Gingrich get elected than give Obama their vote, effectively cutting off the nose of the movement to spite its face. Beyond that, these are the faces of the reform movement in everyday life.
    So please, NORML comment section contributors: raise the bar. I feel for the editor that has to constantly corral you into line, but more importantly than that I feel that you’re harming our cause more than you’re helping it. After all, if I thought marijuana made people think and act like some of the people here, I would consider becoming a prohibitionist.

  19. Ron Paul is in second place and rising to the top. When this presidential race comes down to Ron Paul vs. Obama, vote for the man who will pardon nonviolent drug offenders,bring us towards legalization, and end our military presence around the world. VOTE RON PAUL! Just say no to a spineless corrupt scumbag like Obama.

  20. Poor, Attorney general Holder’s mind went blank when confronted by, Mr. Polis’ questions and he was stumbling for words .
    Sure seemed to me he was caught off guard and didn’t have enough time to figure out some more lies .

  21. Did #7 seriously just suggest the road to legalization is by voting for Obama? How much are they paying you to comment here?

  22. Thank you very much, Representative Polis.
    Please cut the budget of all federal agencies that enforce cannabis prohibition so much that what Holder said actually becomes true, namely that cannabis is a low priority. In fact, slash the respective budgets so much that cannabis prohibition enforcement becomes a non-priority because they’re not allowed to spend any money on it as long as there are illegal drugs and issues that have a higher priority.

  23. No, the road to legalization is not voting for Obama, nor is it Ron Paul, nor Romney, and it for Damn sure is not, not, not, not, not, voting for Newt Gingrich. A couple of years ago Obama was going to address school children on the importance of working hard and staying in school. Districts in my state allowed parents to keep their children home to protect them from such subversion. If he came out in favor of legalization the Republcan backlash would sweep a nutcase like Gingrich into office. Obama’s been a disapointment, Republicans are the Enemy.

  24. @#23,Aldous
    I would like to second your call for greater care and consideration when commenting because spouting angry threats, well-meaning yet rather useless slogans, or conspiracy theories do nothing but paint the very rational movement to reschedule and legalize cannabis just the colors the opposition wants to see. Let us look to what is, and what we can do to ethically further our cause. There are times for outrage, and there are times for debate and reasoning. We can all agree that the image surrounding cannabis use since its early prohibition is wrong, let’s think and act in ways that support the good of the change we desire rather than be mired in negativity.

  25. Hell, the way the DEA just admitted to laundering ‘millions’ since the Reagan times — 1984 — and the way they allow Mexican Cartels to ‘operate for years’ without taking them down, you probably stay in business longer if you’re a major cartel group than a legal dispensary!

  26. it is great to see Terrorist-Holder get a MILD question. that he did not answer.
    The feds have shot citizens, invaded the homes of citizens “Right Here In America”, nope, not Iraq Invasion, “”AMERICAN INVASION””.
    violence has been forced upon the American citizens and yet people want to say,, no violence…. hmmmmmm. Death Camp Trains are next,, but no violence, hmmmmm.

  27. It would be great if we had President Gary Johnson or President Ron Paul next year. Probably isn’t going to happen, but I would love to see how either of these gentleman would shake things up in Washington, especially regarding marijuana prohibition.

  28. to #31, thank you for that,the picture that is still painted is one of wallet losin, strung out, non showerin couch tater…the other half of that is what comes our mouth. for every one or two of those types,their are millions of damn good people who work for their livin. and live just a little on the side. many wear buisness suits daily, and, those of us who are still diggin jeans ana tee shirt. we pay our stinkin taxes so shit can get done in america. we are good with the neighbors AND their is even love in our family…imagine that…its a damn shame , that fact cant be more openly displayed…cannabis has been an addition to my life for 32 yrs.i have learned to use it for utility perposes as well as a great comfortable buzz in the right settings or, head out in the shop to actually, finish a project….just get drunk an do that.tried that an it doesnt work. peace to you all…

  29. Violence. Tokers just aren’t good at violence. In over 40 years, I’ve never seen any violence associated with the ‘evil weed’. I can’t even recall a heated argument.
    Although it is AGONIZINGLY slow, progress is being made. Violence will quickly roll us back to the days of reefer madness. Why suggest such an obviously flawed, counterproductive course of action? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  30. When I read these comments I see people decrying Obama and clamoring for the election of Ron Paul, or for various third-party presidential candidates. This attitude strikes me as rather shortsighted. Ron Paul may have tied with Obama in a nonbinding popular support poll, but that doesn’t really matter. He won’t win the Republican nomination because he’s simply not popular enough with the average Republican voter.
    I assume that a lot of the more realistic people who read this website are registered Democrats, since they tend to be more friendly towards the cannabis legalization movement than Republicans. In most states these people can’t vote in Republican primaries to help out Ron Paul anyway, so we’ll end up with a presidential race between Obama and whoever does win the Republican nomination, which presently looks like Gingrich.
    Now, how you feel about Obama is largely irrelevent. He’s clearly the better choice for the cannabis legalization movement when Gingrich is the alternative. What more people need to realize is that every time some voter in 2012 says “I don’t like either mainstream candidate” and votes for a third-party, or a write-in, she will effectively be supporting Gingrich. Why? Because if she absolutely had to pick a mainstream candidate she’d pick Obama. By going third-party she therefore takes her vote away from Obama, making Gingrich more likely to come up with the win.
    Be realistic: Ron Paul won’t be the Republican option, and a third-party candidate isn’t going to win. It’s been nearly half a century since one even carried a single state. If you want to help the cannabis legalization movement, keep voting for Obama, because even if you hate him, he’s the best we’re going to get.

  31. I don’t understand how as a country we have allowed large corporations to control us all the way down to what we can and can’t ingest due to who is making the money. Im deeply saddend with the set of rules in place. These are not conspiracies they are a way of life that we have to follow or be jailed. I do not agree that certain unnamed families are making more than ever now when seemingly the rest has to scrounge the scrapings from the glutinist just to get by. Families losing there homes to banks that just allow them to flood instead of putting a family that can take care of the home for a lower rate rather than being allowed to get damaged. I see a bleek future for all of us and personally that is why i haven’t had children yet if i ever do. Im sad to say but our government will find themselves in the middle of a civil war if people keep getting put on their asses when they try to play by the rules.. Hope it doesn’t go that far but we need to get the corruption out first even if that means an overhaul of alot of old rules. Then maybe just maybe we can finally be herd again. Don’t allow them to cut our votes due to I.D. restrictions. Change the laws..

  32. When the federal government attacks as many dispensaries and growers using all of it’s letter gang to persecute them,,it is hardly “low priority”.
    I thought you had to take an oath to testify to congress.

  33. #34
    This is exactly what I’m talking about. The SWAT raids on nonviolent offenders, often resulting in loss of property– and sometimes life–is a very real problem that is worthy of discussion. Framed like that, however, and it gets relegated to the fringes.
    Comparing law enforcement to the Nazis is a great way to make us all seem like crackpots, by the way. Regardless of the parallels that can be drawn, the fact is that when you start making Hitler comparisons, you have demonstrated that line of two things is true:
    A) Your argument lacks validity
    Or
    B) You can’t effectively demonstrate your arguments validity
    Either way, the best thing to do is avoid looking foolish. It doesn’t help you, and it doesn’t help the reform movement. The only people it does help are the prohibitionists looking for ways to demonstrate to themselves or others that they are the sane ones.
    If I’m coming off as overbearing or judgmental, I’m sorry. I just feel that if we are ever going to overcome the obstacles stacked against us, it will be because we grew up and started acting like adults, instead of indulging in fruitless chatter amongst ourselves about how evil the government is.

  34. Washington, D.C. — Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday reiterated the Justice Department’s support for the Ogden memo, which in 2009 declared that the sale and use of medical marijuana in states where it’s legal are a low priority for federal prosecutors.
    “What we said in the memo we still intend, which is that given the limited resources that we have, and if there are states that have medical marijuana provisions … if in fact people are not using the policy decision that we have made to use marijuana in a way that’s not consistent with the state statute, we will not use our limited resources in that way,” Holder said.
    The comments came in response to a question from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) during a hearing on the Justice Department’s flawed and discredited gun-sting program. Polis also asked about the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana shops in California, where U.S. attorneys have closed hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in just two months’ time. She questioned whether Colorado could expect to get different treatment.
    “It’s my understanding,” Polis said, “[California] did not have a functional state-level regulatory authority. Colorado does have an extensive state regulatory and licensing system for medical marijuana, and I’d like to ask whether our thoughtful state regulation … provides any additional protection to Colorado from federal intervention.”
    Holder’s response, though vague, offered Polis some assurance, while seeming to suggest that state-level regulation in California is inadequate.
    “Where a state has taken a position, has passed a law and people are acting in conformity with the law — not abusing the law — that would not be a priority with the limited resources of our Justice Department,” Holder said.
    Steve DeAngelo, executive director of the Oakland, Calif., medical cannabis club Harborside Health Center, doesn’t buy the argument.
    “Federal prosecutors are not trying to clean up the regulated medical cannabis industry, they are trying to destroy it,” he said at a San Francisco press conference in October, shortly after the crackdown was announced. “Their real target is not criminal gangs, but rather the systems of licensing and regulation implemented by dozens of communities state-wide. This is destroying tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of tax dollars in local, state and federal tax revenue.”

  35. Anyone who posts here advocating for four more years of Obama, because he is the ‘lesser of two evils’ is a hypocrite who is enabling the continued Prohibition of Cannabis.
    Obama lied to us all to get into office, and promptly continued expanding our military presence around the world, and he has also been far tougher on the Medical Marijuana movement than Bush or Clinton.
    Do you really think he is going to soften his positions over the next four years? The answer to that question is no…he has already been bought and paid for by people and organizations that are much more powerful and rich then anyone associated with Marijuana.
    Ron Paul is the only candidate who offers a slight glimmer of hope, and I am not even sold on his true intentions. The one thing I do know is that Obama is the number 1 enemy of the Marijuana movement.

  36. The Fed said, “as long as individuals aren’t abusing the law.” And who determines who is abusing? Problem will not be resolved unless we have full blow legalization. They’re using these tactics to try and come back later and say, “We tried legalizing, but too much criminal activity is associated with legalization”.
    I like Ron’s views on legalization, but I do not believe Ron Paul will get elected because his racist past will always come back to haunt him. And so what if the President if for legalization, it won’t matter unless congress supports it too.

  37. Well the editor in the last sentence hit the nail, now to drive it home. Which one kills ? survey : buds or feds? Besides it’s a good message to remind all that we are better than that . Too much emotion in motion. Think more!

  38. you know folks, im not defending obama but,it seems to me our president doesnt make ALL the decisions in certian matters.i dont doubt that he may have gotten in office and crashed right into the brick wall of the choice few with the money who really run this show. for those who plan on voting for ron paul for the reason of legalization….come on folks, do you really think one man, be he the head of our country,can win against a policy to protect the interest of a handful of influential buisnessmen that keep cannabis illegal? really? i dont care who gets in office,he or she will never over rule the power of money . we cannot expect a president to change this…but with power in numbers, it seems like if WE ALL could stand as one…you know, get off our asses and stand in a manner that is decent and reasonable, something may change.that may show those who are unsure what kind of people consume cannabis that we are telling the truth about it…but, waiting for a president to do it would be futile….you all who wont say shit to defend the remedy, just wait till you have to start drug testing in order to keep a decent job like i did and, THAT may cause you to stand up for the right to consume it!..peace to you all..

  39. come on folks, think about this. now, im not defending obama at all but, do you really think even the president can stand up to the big money suits who stand to lose if cannabis is legalized? really? i think its entirely possible that obama got in office and those whom i just described would set him straight where legalization is concerned. do you really think if you vote ron paul into office, that he will get it done?…i think not! money talks way too muck in this country. barrack may very well had intentions of changing the law and crashed right into the wall of those in the crystal palace that was built in 1937. what may help more is if we as one people get off our american asses and stand up for what is right….done in a reasonable manner may show those among us who do not consume that, cannabis consumers are decent people. to you that wont stand up for cannabis…wait till you must conform to drug testing to keep a decent job like it was with me and, you will see…its goin to take “we the people”…we cant wait for a president to do it . speak up folks..cannabis was a benefit to my life an i miss it….peace to you all…speak dammit!

  40. Man, Wish I had some of that TOP Brand Marijuana to celebrate that bust on Holder. Shoot, The devil is not happy, after the Swiss stuck the flag up his behind, guess we will be seeing others take an even bigger chunk out of mans fabricated devil. Lets face it, When truth tells on it’s self, the devil has always had ways to concealed the truth with plenty cover-ups…oops! Not This TIME! This one slip out between the cracks and they can not close the door on it this time. Marijuana/Hemp Family is…Truth be told…HELLO! MAMA

  41. #43
    Obama is the lesser of two evils when compared to Newt Gingrich. He has said we should cane nonviolent drug offenders. Imagine that guy calling the shots. As fast as far as Obama being harsher than Bush on medical marijuana…I would have to see the numbers i guess. I’d be willing to concede on that one if there’s proof.
    Ron Paul is most definitely the best bet, but it’s a long shot for him to make it through the primaries. I’d vote for him though, because his record demonstrates honesty.
    Anyone but Gingrich, if you’re talking about reform.

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