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BREAKING: Eric Holder Announces Department of Justice to Allow Marijuana Legalization to Go Into Effect

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director August 29, 2013

    sheet-of-money-hempDuring a conference call with state governors today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US Department of Justice would allow the marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect.

    Holder announced that the Department of Justice will take a “trust but verify approach” to the new marijuana laws, but did reserve the right to file a preemption lawsuit at a later date if necessary.

    In a three page memo issued by Deputy Attorney General Cole, the DOJ clarified they will still retain the right to prosecute individuals who engage in the following circumstances:

    -the distribution of marijuana to minors;
    -revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
    -the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
    -state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
    -violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
    -drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
    -growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
    -preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

    “This is a historic step forward,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Assuming the Department of Justice stays true to their word, these states and others will no doubt move forward with the state-licensed regulation of cannabis for adults. The public has evolved beyond the simplistic, failed policies of cannabis prohibition and are seeking pragmatic, regulatory alternatives. It is encouraging to see that the federal government no longer intends to stand in their way.”

    Much more on this story as it develops.

    You can view the official DOJ memo here.

    Washington Governor Jay Inslee released the following statement applauding this move by the Department of Justice:

    “We want to thank the Attorney General for working with the states on this and for finding a way that allows our initiative to move forward while maintaining a commitment to fighting illegal drugs. This reflects a balanced approach by the federal government that respects the states¹ interests in implementing these laws and recognizes the federal government’s role in fighting illegal drugs and criminal activity.

    Attorney General Holder also expressed a willingness to work with the states on a financial structure that would not run afoul of federal law. The news today is an affirmation of good work by the state Liquor Control Board as it has devised a responsible system of implementing our voter-approved law. We can assure the Attorney General that Washington state will remain vigilant in enforcing laws against the illicit marijuana market. Since voters approved Initiative 502 last year, the state has been working to implement it. Today’s announcement from Attorney General Holder is a confirmation that the process can continue to move forward as planned. We appreciate that the federal government will allow the voice of Washingtonians to be heard on this issue.”

    166 Responses to “BREAKING: Eric Holder Announces Department of Justice to Allow Marijuana Legalization to Go Into Effect”

    1. sputnik says:

      But yet they reserve the right to bust you if you if they want to. This is lukewarm at best. We don’t need a system that says they will allow us to have weed but yet still fear that we can be busted at anytime… The fear needs to end. END PROHIBITION NOW GOD DAMMIT

    2. Anonymous says:

      hell yeah

    3. jt says:

      well that’s that , moving to Colorado

    4. Miles says:

      Wow, 50 years after Martin Luther King maybe out Govt will finally stop the discriminatory practices against cannabis consumers! Is it really possible that America will regain the prestige of being a free country?

      For now, even if the Feds give in to the Will of the People on this matter, some states still treat cannabis as though it is an evil that must be beaten to death; like Virginia and Oklahoma… We still have a long way to go but progress is being made and that is worth celebrating; unless you are one of the thousands of non-violent marijuana users suffering in prisons…

    5. jimmy says:

      -revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;

      -state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;


      This is pretty good news. Note well taken on his motion to reserve the right to preemptive lawsuit, meaning he could “take this back” and go against his word, but doing so with proper procedure, according to law-talk.

      An attack or rebuff or states’ legalization, or decision to end costly and failed public policy would prompt immediate attention and resistance. Including from states that are aware of what is possible, and are waiting for their turn to end policy that enriches few and alienates all the rest.

      When legalization occurs in the rest of the states, it will become more apparent (wake up) that prohibition is and has been the problem. So not getting rid of problematic public policy that does more harm than good, makes things much simpler. Like a burden lifted, a big breath of fresh air. Where a bulleted list of “conditions” to be verified evaporates when the bad policy just goes away.

    6. Evening Bud says:

      Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! The sweet smell of freedom is in the air! Thank you Eric Holder! Thank you President Obama!

      Finally, I’m seeing it before I die! Gonna have to celebrate!

    7. claygooding says:

      Any pool started on how many states will have legalization bills by 2014 going through their legislatures by the control freak politicians where a voters initiative is possible,,they will want to put the law in that benefits them more than anyone else.

      Greed of the few began marijuana prohibition and greed of the many will end it.

      Any word on the government removing cannabis from schedule 1? That will be the final blow to the DEA and the drug war machine.

    8. Cheech says:

      That’s nice but states don’t need his permission.

    9. jimmy says:

      So * getting rid of problematic public policy that does more harm than good, makes things much simpler.

      *(delete “not” from conclusion)

    10. Evening Bud says:

      I nearly forgot, and a big thank you to NORML and the other groups and people who’ve helped us see this day.

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