U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is being asked to explain to a Senate committee his department's policy toward Washington and other states that have legalized some form of marijuana consumption.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants Holder to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 10 to clarify the federal response for Washington and Colorado, which have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and for the 20 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized medical marijuana.
Afther Washington and Colorado voters passed state laws legalizing recreational marijuana use last November, Leahy asked the Obama administration what it planned to do about enforcement policies and "what assurances the administration can give to state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers to ensure they will not face criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws," he said Monday in a prepared statement.
State laws should be respected, Leahy said. "At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government."
Gov. Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Rob Ferguson met with Holder in January, asking what the federal government's response would be to Washington's legalization of marijuana. They have yet to get an answer, and Ferguson said last week he had "no additional knowledge" of what the federal response would be. The state is preparing rules for people who want to obtain licenses to grow, process and sell marijuana legally.
The attorney general's office "continues to prepare for the worst case scenario, which would be litigation" if the federal government tries to stop that, Ferguson said.