U.S. Attorney General close to weighing in on Colo. and Wash. legalization?


Eric Holder.

Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state attorneys general on Tuesday that he is in the final stages of reviewing measures passed in Colorado and Washington and that he should issue his assessment in the near future. How long that may mean? Who knows.

Holder says he was examining both the federal policy options as well as what these new state laws mean on the international level. When asked by Colorado Attorney general John Suthers about the issue Holder responded:

Colorado A.G. John Suthers.

“We’re in the last stages of that review, and we’re trying to make a determination as to what the policy ramifications are going to be, what our international obligations are — there are a whole variety of things that go into this determination — but the people of [Colorado] and Washington deserve an answer, and you will have one soon.”

Earlier in the day, Suthers had been
vocal with the Washington Times about the nearly four-month wait Colorado and Washington have been going through:
“Well gosh darn it, the federal government’s always there when you don’t need them, and they don’t show up when you do need them.This is a perfect example of it. Because if you’re going to be assertive and aggressive then we’re going to tell the legislature one thing. If you’re going to say, ‘whatever you want to do,’ that’s another thing.”
According to the Huffington Post, Holder has been looking into the laws over the last few months since they were passed. They say his two major options are that he could end up suing the states like the federal government did with Arizona’s immigration laws, or he could simply decide not to challenge the laws at all. No telling which way he’s leaning, as he’s been pretty mum on the subject up until this point other than to point out that Federal law trumps state laws.
Leaders in Washington state and Colorado have been asking Holder for a response for months now. In Colorado, for example, Governor John Hickenlooper contacted Holder back in November of last year just after Amendment 64 had passed, legalizing not only personal use and cultivation, but a recreational marijuana industry. Hickenlooper made a call to Holder back in November, but nothing came of the conversation and the A.G. has remained mum up until this week. Both states have already begun preliminary planning and rulemaking surrounding their bills.
The feds have also seen pressure from national politicians like Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. In December of last year, Leahy sent a letter to the National Drug Control Policy wanting clarification on whether or not state legislators charged with licensing retail marijuana stores would face federal drug charges for following the will of their state’s voters. Other politicians didn’t wait for an answer and have already submitted and announced bills that would protect marijuana users and businesses in the states that allow it.