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Posts tagged: Eric Holder

Feds won’t pre-empt WA pot law

OLYMPIA — The federal government will not try to stop Washington from setting up a way to allow adults to use legal marijuana.

In what state officials described as a “game changer”, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday the federal government will focus attention on several key areas of illegal marijuana production and sales, but allow Washington to continue setting up systems for legal marijuana to be grown and sold to adults.  .  .

 

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Holder asked to explain pot policy to Senate

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.

State to feds: We’ll be ready if you sue over legalized pot

OLYMPIA — State officials appear to be hoping for the best while preparing for the worst as Washington and the federal government try to determine how the state will license and regulate marijuana.

After a meeting in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said the nation's chief legal officer was open to learning more about the law voters passed and the state's plans to make it work. There were no firm conclusions from their first meeting, Inslee said.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said they also made it clear to Holder the state has a team of lawyers preparing for any federal lawsuit, should one come.
 
“We want to avoid a legal fight,” Ferguson said. “If it comes to it, we will be prepared.”
 
Inslee characterized their first meeting over the state's voter-approved marijuana law as cordial, with Holder asking questions about some aspects of the law and state officials providing him with a three-page memo on the duties state employees would  have to license and regulate the growth, processing, distribution and sale of marijuana. They will provide more information on how the state plans to contain the sale of legal marijuana within its borders.
 
“It was a good meeting,” Inslee said. “I do feel good that the attorney general will look at this in great detail.”
 
The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which under Initiative 502 is in charge of coming up with regulations for licensing producers and sellers, can continue with that process, he said. Under the law, that process must be up and running by Dec. 1, and some of the licenses would be available by August.
 
“We're moving forward,” Ferguson said. “There are some deadlines coming up soon.”
 
There was no indication from Holder whether the federal government will take legal action against the state to prevent the regulation and sale of marijuana, which currently is illegal for all uses under federal law.
 
Ferguson said his office has already assigned a team that is “mapping out a legal strategy” to pursue if the federal government does go to court to try to block the law. “The legal issues are complex,” he added. 

Holder backing dispensary raids, Gregoire says

OLYMPIA – States that have legalized marijuana for medical uses are pushing the U.S. Justice Department for help in sorting out the conflict between federal drug laws and their own, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s aware of the problems and agreed this week to work with her, as the head of the National Governor’s Association and the point person for the 16 states with medical marijuana laws.

But Holder told her a department memo on not using federal resources to pursue patients using medical marijuana is being “misinterpreted” by the states and people setting up dispensaries to sell the drug to patients. That lack of prosecution was intended only for “those that are really quite ill” she said. “It’s expanded beyond anything anticipated in the Ogden Memo.” Holder told her he fully supports federal prosecutors who are shutting down dispensaries, and they are in Eastern Washington and Montana.

Gregoire believes the federal government should reclassify marijuana so it can be used for some medicinal purposes. Right now it’s classified as illegal for all uses. But reclassification usually takes time for drug tests, and the states don’t have that luxury. “I said, ‘The states need your help, the sooner the better.”

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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