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U.S. attorney general ‘cautiously optimistic’ about legalizing marijuana

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WASHINGTON — The outgoing U.S. attorney general said he is “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to Washington and Colorado’s experiment with marijuana legalization.

Eric Holder, who announced last month his plans to retire, is one of President Barack Obama’s longest-serving Cabinet members and has faced the delicate task of defining federal policy after a wave of marijuana legalization at the state level across the country.

“We don’t want to put into the federal system, low level people who are simply there for possessory offenses,” Holder said Monday in an interview with CNN’s Evan Perez.

Holder last year outlined eight enforcement areas the Justice Department would focus on in a move aimed at calming nerves in Washington and Colorado, the only two states where recreational marijuana is legal.

The eight “priority areas” have focused the Justice Department’s efforts on preventing marijuana distribution to minors, inter-state trafficking and drug violence. But Holder made clear Monday that his agency could change its non-interventionist stance if the states’ regulatory frameworks aren’t up to snuff.

“What I’ve told the governors of those states is that if we’re not satisfied with their regulatory scheme that we reserve the right to come in and to sue them. So we’ll see,” Holder said.

The sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The Justice Department’s policy hasn’t meant total immunity for marijuana growers and dispensaries in states with both medical and recreation marijuana, where dispensaries and growhouses have since been raided and owners prosecuted.


  • John

    I think it should be legalized. I believe that the extra income from it would boost the economy even more, and I think the crime rate would decrease, meaning less people in the already overpopulated jails.

  • malcolmkyle

    Imagine if we were to chop down every single tree on the planet as a response to our failure to prevent tree-climbing accidents. That’s what our misguided drug policy looks like. Isn’t it time we all stood up and told the government we’re tired of being beaten and jailed so that pharmaceutical companies can poison and kill us for obscene profits?

    Prohibition prevents regulation : Legalize, regulate and tax!

  • Just thinking

    yes, I woud rather someone smoke clean pot than drink alcohol. They need to make it legal and not put a high price on it. It is better to use then medication with all the side effects. I for one am for it. Through out the USA

  • Just thinking

    I watched my Mother die from cancer, they gave her morphine so she was out of pain. She was out of pain she was also a sleep all the time. With marijuana she would of at least knew who we were and where she was. I truly believe this. We have enough people in our own country that will grow it we don’t need it from other places and it will provide jobs for the jobless.

  • Fr33dom

    The DOJ will sue? On what grounds? The fed cannot force states to enforce its insane drug laws as long as states do not aid or abet federal crimes. The fed is entitled to prosecute these crimes but it cannot
    force states to do the same.

  • Fr33dom

    The fed has neither the personnel nor the funding to maintain the drug war without the complicity of the states. Marijuana is the lynch pin of the drug war. Once CA goes in 2016 it’s game over.
    Using drugs isn’t a scourge, it’s normal human behavior. When we criminalize drug use we criminalize our own humanity.

    • ron

      When we criminalize drug use we criminalize our own humanity. nice! 1st time reading that in a comment. good take though and exactly correct.

  • wiseman

    Did you all seen the Rednecks dancing in the street jumping for joy? Lock up all your pets. They will steal them and sell to get money for their weed.

  • RVA Marijuana (@RVAMarijuana)

    Let’s legalize marijuana, Virginia! Convert the tobacco farms to cannabis farms. Create thousands of jobs, millions of tax revenue, lower pain killer over-dose numbers, and stop the racial injustice that marijuana prohibition supports/promotes. It’s common sense and our rights as humans (Americans). Email your representative today and ‘Like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date on this extremely important issue.

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