Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, told senators during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday that she, like her predecessor Eric Holder, would not support the legalization of marijuana.
Asked by a Republican, Senator Jeff Sessions, whether she would “support the legalization of marijuana”, Lynch replied: “Senator – I do not.”
“I do not support legalization of marijuana; it’s not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general,” Lynch said.
Lynch’s testimony did not stray far from the Justice Department’s current stance on marijuana legalization.
While Holder refused to challenge legalization in Colorado and Washington, he also did not change the feds’ stance on what is currently a schedule I controlled substance, in common with heroin.
In April 2014, after legalization in those states, Holder issued eight priorities for the department, leaving out marijuana prosecution.
“It essentially means that the federal government is not going to be involved in the prosecution of small-time, possessory drug cases,” Holder said, as reported by the Huffington Post . “But we never were, so I’m not sure that I see a huge change yet.”
Holder added he was “cautiously optimistic” about the states’ efforts.
Holder took heat for refusing to challenge Colorado and Washington’s ban. He also softened the department’s prosecution of non-violent drug offenders , an attempt to avoid imposing mandatory minimum sentences for offences involving substances such as marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has expressed a much more rigid stance toward marijuana legalization. At one point, a DEA official told the House oversight committee that “every single parent out there” was against legalization.
Since Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana, prosecutors in Brooklyn have stopped charging marijuana violators. Voters in Washington DC voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana.
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