Attorney General Holder Declares Feds Won't Block Legal Marijuana in States with "Strong and Effective'" Enforcement

Cal NORML Backs Proposed Guidelines, Calls on State Legislature to Act

August 29, 2013 - In a long-awaited announcement of federal marijuana enforcement policy, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice won't "make it a priority" to block marijuana legalization in Colorado or Washington.

Cal NORML welcomed the AG's announcement, while cautioning that the DOJ failed to follow through on a similar, previous promise to respect state medical marijuana laws in its 2009 Ogden memo. "The new DOJ policy provides sensible guidelines for marijuana enforcement," said Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer, "We hope that this time they are successfully implemented."

In a three page policy memo by Assistant AG James Cole, the DOJ stated that "strong and effective" state enforcement systems are needed to address major federal concerns, namely preventing diversion to other states, cultivation on public lands, diversion to children, drugged driving, involvement of criminal gangs, violence and use of firearms, or possession on federal property. The memo added that the large size of commercial operations would no longer by itself be grounds for federal intervention, provided that strong and effective enforcement systems are in place.

"The DOJ's call for "strong and effective" state enforcement is a mandate for California to finally implement a statewide system to legally regulate the distribution, production, and sale of medical marijuana, as has been proposed in legislation by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and Sen. Steinberg," said Gieringer, "We hope the state legislature will move expeditiously to address this important need. Only by legally regulating marijuana like other consumer goods can we undercut and eliminate the illegal market that has been plaguing our state with hazardous cultivation on public lands, secret grow houses, criminal smugglers, and street dealers."

Read the full text of today’s memo from Deputy Attorney General Cole to US Attorneys