Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Federal marijuana policies and practices the big dog not barking in AG Holder's big criminal justice speech

Attorney General Eric Holder's potent remarks to the ABA covered lots of ground and made the profound claim that our "criminal justice system ... is in too many respects broken." AG Holder unveiled a number concrete changes in how his Justice Department would approach a number of federal crime and punishment issues, and he more broadly called upon "every member of [the legal] profession to question that which is accepted truth; to challenge that which is unjust; to break free of a tired status quo; and to take bold steps to reform and strengthen America’s criminal justice system."

Given the profound and profoundly important debate over reform of modern marijuana laws engendered by recent changes in many states' laws, one might have well expected that AG Holder would address the seemingly "tired status quo" of federal marijuana prohibition and suggest possible "bold steps to reform" the uneasy relationship between federal and local pot laws.  But, quite notably, Holder said nothing directly addressing this pressing issues.

That said, AG Holder did take something of a swipe the general status quo on drug policies when he said "as the so-called 'war on drugs' enters its fifth decade, we need to ask whether it, and the approaches that comprise it, have been truly effective."  That comment alone should at least encourage marijuana reform advocates.

But, critically and somewhat problematically, the Obama administration has yet formally announce any stance on how it will approach marijuana markets and use in Washington state and Colorado after voters approved initiatives to permit recreational adult use back in November.  Nearly six months ago, Holder indicated that some specific federal response to these new state laws was "coming soon."  But, as these states and others continue to explore methods and mechanisms for allowing its citizens to have legal access to marijuana, its seems that AG Holder is still not yet ready to discuss these issues as part of his active reform agenda.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2013/08/federal-marijuana-policies-and-practices-the-big-dog-not-barking-in-ag-holders-big-criminal-justice-.html

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Comments

I would like to know more about the changes in the Federal Prison System that Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about and have any begin to take effect yet and all information regarding these changes. especially what I as a parent to a federal inmate who has not committed any violent crmes or has ever belonged to any Organized Crime Organizations can do to see that my son receives Justice . I would appreciate information regarding any updates you can give me regarding this matter.

Posted by: Janette | Aug 27, 2013 8:29:37 AM

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