Holder in Senate Testimony Today: 'Still Considering' Response to Marijuana Legalization


Senate Judiciary Committee

Attorney General Eric Holder is still not quite ready, four months after voters in Colorado and Washington approved marijuana legalization initiatives, to say how the Justice Department might respond to that historic development. Testifying this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder was given an opportunity to say, for example, whether the Justice Department will try to prevent those states from allowing sales of marijuana for recreational use by arguing in court that their laws are pre-empted by the Controlled Substances Act, whether it will arrest and prosecute people who operate state-licensed marijuana stores or growing operations, whether it will target people who grow marijuana at home for their own use and to share with friends (as permitted by Colorado's law), or whether it will use the threat of civil forfeiture to shut down cannabis businesses that comply with state law. When the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), asked him about marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, Holder said the Obama administration is "still considering" how to respond. Last week he promised a policy "relatively soon," the same phrase he used in December. Around the same time, Leahy said he plans to hold a hearing on the issue this year.