All nine former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs waited to hear the Obama administration’s official position on two state laws legalizing marijuana, but no word came as of Wednesday.
Colorado and Washington state recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, even though federal law still makes any use of the drug a crime
The former DEA chiefs and four former drug czars sent a letter Monday asking Sens. Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley of the Judiciary Committee to “encourage Attorney General Eric Holder to adhere to long-standing federal law and policy in this regard, and to vigorously enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).”
The letter called an Obama administration response an urgent matter as the clock ticks on the state laws’ implementation:
We, the undersigned, strongly support the continued enforcement of federal law prohibiting the cultivation, distribution, sale, possession, and use of marijuana-a dangerous and addictive drug which already has severe harmful effects on American society.
Our nation urgently needs action from Attorney General Holder to ensure that federal marijuana laws are enforced, federal preemption is asserted, and our obligations under international drug treaties are honored.
Holder testified before the committee Wednesday, but he didn’t reveal what the Justice Department’s official response would be.
CBS Denver published this statement from Holder to the committee:
I have had the opportunity to meet with the leadership from Colorado and from Washington, the governors. We had a good, I think, communication. We in the administration at this point are considering what the federal government’s response to those new statutes will be. I expect we will have the ability to announce what our policy is going to be relatively soon.
“I would think, this is simply an editorial comment,” Leahy responded, according to CBS, “but if you are going to have to be, because of budget cuts, prioritizing matters, I would suggest there are more serious things than minor possession of marijuana. But that’s a personal view.”