Attorney General Eric Holder: “If in fact people are not using he 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.” Or something.
It’s easy to get whiplash trying to keep up with federal medical marijuana policy, and my neck’s hurting again after hearing the latest from Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder on Thursday repeated the support of the Department of Justice for the Ogden Memo, the 2009 policy statement which deprioritized the prosecution of medical marijuana providers who are following state law.
“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 in his usual convoluted (dare I say tortured?) fashion, reports Lucia Graves at Huffington Post.
Holder’s pained expression and body language as he deals with the question speak volumes. The Administration is caught between a rock (federal marijuana laws) and a hard place (the cannabis vote), which means “break out the fancy footwork” every time the subject comes up.
Rep. Jared Polis: “I’d like to ask whether our thoughtful state regulation … provides any additional protection to Colorado from federal intervention”
An interesting question at this point is if the continued wails of dismay from the medical marijuana community — sizable numbers of whom, during the 2008 election, had lined up behind Obama and his seemingly medicinal cannabis-friendly (or at least reasonable) stance — are finally starting to once again impact the Administration’s stated policy.
Holder’s comments came in response to a question from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) during a hearing on the DOJ’s scandalous program of handing out weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
Polis — a longtime friend to the medical marijuana community– asked about the recent federal saber rattling and crackdown on California dispensaries, where the state’s four U.S. Attorneys have forced hundreds of collectives to close down in the past two months. The shutdowns have come largely as a result of threatening letters sent by all four U.S. Attorneys’ offices, threatening landlords with property seizure, dispensary operators with eviction, and both with imprisonment.
Polis asked whether Colorado dispensaries could expect to get different treatment.
“It’s my understand [California] did not have a functional state-level regulatory authority,” Polis said, “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 vague response did give Polis reason to hope for better treatment of Colorado colletives, at the same time hinting that California’s regulation of the shops is seen as ineffective.
“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.