“The Justice Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” Kerlikowske told reporters at the National Press Club luncheon on Wednesday. “Neither a state nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress, nor should we lose sight of the fundamental fact that using marijuana has public health consequences, and the most responsible public policy is one that restricts its availability and discourages its use.”
Kerlikowske also said that Colorado and Washington laws may become a low priority for federal enforcement, but that until the Justice Department makes such a decision, marijuana will remain a priority.
According to the Huffington Post, he spent much of his time talking about a middle-of-the-road approach to handling our current drug policy that realize the failure of the punitive War on Drugs but don’t necessarily want outright legalization either. He said that future programs would be modeled more after treatment-based options.
“If you could fit an answer to the drug problems in this country on a bumper sticker,” he said, I think you can be assured of one thing — and that is that it’s wrong.”
While it is high profile, it’s not the reply that Washington, Colorado and a number of states considering legalizing small amounts of cannabis are looking for. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to issue a response from the federal government on how they will handle measures passed last November in Washington and Colorado. Two months ago his office said they were in the “last stages of that review”, but have not spoken more about it since.
Several state and local officials have spoken with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, they’ve come away from those talks with nothing that has prevented both state legislatures from moving forward with implementing the laws.