Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holder is "cautiously optimistic" about legalization in Colorado and Washington

From the Huffington Post today, Attorney General Eric Holder makes some noteworthy commenst on marijuana legalization.  Holder said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the implementation of legalization in Colorado and Washington so far.  But, he noted, "we will be monitoring the progress of those efforts and if we conclude that they are not being done in an appropriate way, we reserve our rights to file lawsuits."

Another interesting note, the article describes Holder's decision not to reschedule marijuana as a "political" one and quotes Holder as saying:

"I think that given what we have done in dealing with the whole Smart on Crime initiative and the executive actions that we have taken, that when it comes to rescheduling, I think this is something that should come from Congress," Holder said. "We'd be willing to work with Congress if there is a desire on the part of Congress to think about rescheduling. But I think I'd want to hear, get a sense from them about where they'd like to be."

Though Holder's comments aren't much different from what the administration has said already, HuffPo's description of rescheduling as a "political" decision brings to mind the flexibility of the CSA.  The CSA purports to provide scientific criteria for classifying and regulating mind-altering substances.  But, as I've written  about elsewhere, the criteria are so open-ended that they don't do much to constrain administrative decision-making.  

Though I doubt Congress will take Holder up on the offer to work with the on rescheduling marijuana, if this issue does start to gain momentum in Washington, I hope that legislators will use the opportunity to rethink the CSA's classification scheme at a more fundamental level.  In its current incarnation, it is too malleable and incoherent to effectively guide administrators.    

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2014/04/holder-is-cautiously-optimistic-about-legalization-in-colorado-and-washington.html

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