|Photo: Colorado Connection|
|Rep. Jared Polis: “I would certainly encourage that the question of whether or not it’s consistent with state law certainly be left to state enforcement actions”|
Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado on Thursday quizzed Attorney General Eric Holder about federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states like Colorado which have legalized it for medical use and are now seeing a growing number of dispensaries.
In his very first appearance as a new member of the House Judiciary Committee, Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, quizzed Holder about comments from a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent suggesting the Justice Department planned to raid Colorado dispensaries, reports Michael Riley of The Denver Post.
Holder denied any such plans are in place, saying there were “higher enforcement priorities” and citing a directive by the deputy attorney general giving specific criteria under which federal agents would shut down dispensaries operating legally under state law.
“There are a variety of factors that are contained within the memo… that United States attorneys and assistant United States attorneys are supposed to apply, supposed to consider, when trying to make the determination about whether or not federal resources are going to be used to go after somebody who is dealing in marijuana,” Holder equivocated.
|Photo: Mirror On America|
|U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder: “There are a variety of factors… to consider, when trying to make the determination about whether or not federal resources are going to be used to go after somebody who is dealing in marijuana”|
Polis said such matters of state law should be left to the states themselves.
“I would certainly encourage that the question of of whether or not it’s consistent with state law certainly be left to state enforcement actions,” Rep. Polis said.
Polis’s questions were prompted by aggressive comments made by the DEA’s top agent in Colorado, Jeffrey Sweetin, after the arrest of a Highlands Ranch man who publicized a large medical marijuana growing operation in the basement of his luxury home.
Sweetin claims Chris Berkowicz, 36, was violating Colorado state law by having more plants than needed for the patients he was supplying.
Although agents cited Bartkowicz’s prior criminal record and proximity to a school as reasons for the raid, it is widely believed that his TV appearance in which he showed off his bountiful garden — and boasted of the six-figure profits he hoped to make — are what truly inspired the raid, which occurred just hours after the airing of the ill-advised interview.
After the raid, Sweetin said dispensaries are illegal under federal law and claimed the deputy attorney general’s memo does not stop him from raiding them if he thinks there’s a reason to do so.
Sweetin, evidently receiving heat from above, later admitted he wouldn’t raid a dispensary unless there were “aggravating factors.” Oh, like maybe a boastful TV interview, eh, Jeff?
Rep. Polis is co-sponsoring a pending “Truth In Trials” bill that would allow defendants facing marijuana charges in federal court to argue they were in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
To read Rep. Polis’s letter to Atty. Gen. Holder, click here (PDF).