Holder Caught In Partisan Congressional Crossfire On Marijuana Policy


Attorney General Eric Holder was caught in a vast congressional divide over how the federal government should deal with legalization of marijuana in two states, Politico reports. In a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Republicans bashed Holder for going too far to accommodate states. A Democrat pounded him for refusing to study whether the federal drug classification system exaggerates the dangers of cannabis. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said, “The Justice Department's decision not to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states whose laws violate federal law is not a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion, but a formal, department-wide policy of selective non-enforcement of an Act of Congress.” Holder said the Justice Department was still committed to preventing violence connected to drug trafficking and to going after enterprises that were making marijuana available to children. He defended the department's policy on the issue as a valid use of prosecutorial discretion. Holder got a very different perspective from Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), who said DOJ was being too timid by not asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to conduct a formal review of whether marijuana should be a “Schedule I” drug under federal law. That designation bars use of the drugs in research studies, Cohen noted.

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