Eric Holder

Huffington Post Reporter Asks Eric Holder Why Obama Was Less Than Truthful to Rolling Stone About Marijuana Laws

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It turns out Attorney General Eric Holder attended the White House Correspondents' dinner after all. Stranger still, while there Holder answered a question from the Huffington Post about President Obama's less-than-truthful comment on his supposed inability to stop the Department of Justice from cracking down on medical marijuana suppliers.

Maybe the Huffington Post deserved that Pulitzer! (Well, except for the fact that Holder was their guest for the evening which is problematic). But here's the passage from HuffPo on the Rolling Stone interview which Mike Riggs delightfully skewered for its general softball quality, last week. One of the few real questions that the magazine managed to ask, however, was hey, what's the deal with this continued drug war thing? Well:

Speaking with Rolling Stone, the president tried to explain his original comments, claiming that the recent pressure on dispensaries and providers was in line with his intent.

"What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana," Obama said. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana—and the reason is, because it's against federal law."

The president continued: "I can't nullify congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, 'Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books.' What I can say is, 'Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.' As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes."

Jacob Sullum had some words for the president last week as well, namely "Obama is full of shit. During his campaign, it is true, he often referred to medical marijuana users. But he also promised to leave suppliers alone."

But here's Huffpost managing to actually ask about the president's evasions on the issue:

[A] HuffPost reporter noted to Holder that Obama's reference to "congressional law" was misleading because the executive branch could simply remove marijuana from its "schedule one" designation, thereby recognizing its medical use.

"That's right," Holder said.

After Kimmel's speech, a Holder deputy told HuffPost that there was no coordinated war on medical marijuana, but that some individual clinics were breaking both state and federal laws.

Just Say Now's blog at FireDogLake adds:

It is very important that Attorney General Holder himself admits that Obama's "can't nullify Congressional law" statement is completely misleading, because the relevant section of the Controlled Substance Actspecifically gives him, the Attorney General, the power to implement a process to reschedule cannabis administratively.

Even Obama's Attorney General admits there is nothing forcing the administration to wage a war on medical marijuana and nothing stopping the administration from making medical marijuana legal under federal law. This is an active choice the administration is making.

It certainly is. But Holder, it seems, was out that evening just "to have fun." It was nice of him to pause and admit that his boss is indeed full of shit. Hopefully both of them enjoyed Jimmy Kimmel's stand-up.

Mike Riggs on the Obama administration's same old, same old plans for fighting the let's-not-call-it-war-on-drugs.