Obama's Attorney General on Drugs


President-elect Obama has tapped Eric Holder, Jr for attorney general, and most of the opposition thus far has centered around Holder's role in the eleventh hour Clinton pardons. I get bored just typing about that. I'm much more worried about what Holder wanted to do 12 years ago, when he was U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an interview that he is considering not only prosecuting more marijuana cases but also asking the D.C. Council to enact stiffer penalties for the sale and use of marijuana.

"We have too long taken the view that what we would term to be minor crimes are not important," Holder said, referring to current attitudes toward marijuana use and other offenses such as panhandling.

Now, people arrested in the District and charged with distributing marijuana, even large quantities, face only misdemeanor charges, a standard that has sparked repeated complaints by police officers.

He also told the Washington Post that "the District could learn from New York's 'zero-tolerance' policy." I wonder what people in the drug policy reform movement, who have so far been (relatively) optimistic about Obama, think of this.

(Hat tip: Ben Masel.)