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US Attorney General Says Administration Intends To Respond "Relatively Soon" To Statewide Cannabis Legalization Votes

Thursday, 07 March 2013

US Attorney General Says Administration Intends To Respond "Relatively Soon" To Statewide Cannabis Legalization VotesWashington, DC: United States Attorney General Eric Holder told members of the US Senate that the Obama administration is still formulating its policy in regards to states that have legalized the adult consumption and retail sale of marijuana.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Holder said that US Justice Department will respond "relatively soon" to the newly enacted laws in Colorado and Washington that allow for the adult consumption of marijuana as well as the state-licensed retail production and sale of the plant. Those laws were approved by 55 percent of voters in both states on November 6, 2012.

"We are considering what the federal response to those new statutes will be," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today. "We will have the ability to announce what our policy will be relatively soon."

Replying to Holder's testimony, Senate Judiciary Chairmen Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, "I would suggest there are more serious things (for the Justice Department to prioritize) than (the) minor possession of marijuana."

On Tuesday, eight former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and four former drug czars published an open letter calling on the Attorney General to take steps to nullify Colorado and Washington's recently amended laws. "Our nation urgently needs action from Attorney General Holder to ensure that federal marijuana laws are enforced, federal preemption is asserted, and our obligations under international drug treaties are honored," the letter stated.

In response to the letter, US House member Steve Cohen (D-TN) said in a prepared statement: "The federal government should concentrate on shutting down meth labs - not the laboratories of Democracy. The people of Colorado and Washington voted to implement these laws, and the federal government should respect their will. States have a right to determine their own possession laws."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director at: paul@norml.org.