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Attorney General Eric Holder Asked To Clarify Doj Medical Marijuana Policy

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Rep. Polis, one of the newest members of the House Judiciary Committee, asked AG Eric Holder to clarify more questions about the DOJ’s medical marijuana policy.


Building on Rep. Cohen’s questions to AG Holder, Rep. Polis first offered his applause and support for the DOJ memo disseminated last fall to US Attorneys discouraging prosecution of individuals in clear and unambiguous compliance with state law. Then, Rep. Polis asked the following:


Will you describe the objective processes DEA and US Attorneys are using in order to make a determination about whether individuals are in “clear and unambiguous” compliance with state law?


To which, AG Holder provided the following response:


I hate to keep saying this over and over, but it happens on a case by case basis.


We look at the state law, the restrictions, and how the law is constructed. A number of other factors in the memo provide additional guides; is marijuana being sold consistent with state law? Are firearms associated with the sales? These and other factors contained in the the memo are what US Attorney are supposed to consider when trying to determine whether federal resources are going to be used to go after somebody.

To which Mr. Polis responded:


Well, I would certainly encourage that the question of whether or not its consistent with state law be left to state enforcement actions.


Following that excellent line of questioning, Mr. Polis set out to clarify what steps AG Holder was taking to ensure that the spirit of the enforcement mechanisms outlined in the memo are not contradicted by field agents (like Jeffery Sweetin) which can strike fear in legitimate businesses in the states.

Accepting this responsibility, AG Holder replied:

It is incumbent upon me as the Attorney General to make sure that what we’ve set out as policy is being followed. To the extent DEA or US Attorneys are not following that policy, my responsibility is to make sure the policy is clear, disseminated, and that employees of the Justice Department act accordingly.


Not wanting to let Mr. Holder off that easily, Rep. Polis then asked:


Are these statements (by DEA Agent Jeffrey Sweetin) contrary to the DOJ’s policy?


To which, AG Holder said:


If the entity was compliant with state law and didn’t involve any other factors outlined in memo, then that would be inconsistent with the policy we’ve laid out.
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