The nation’s top law enforcement official said he is encouraged by Colorado and Washington State’s handling of recreational marijuana so far but stressed that the government is ready to crack down if oversight is lax or businesses break the rules.
“So far, I’m cautiously optimistic,” United States Attorney General Eric Holder told The Huffington Post in a recent interview. “But as I indicated to both governors, 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.”
The comments come just a week after Holder signaled a willingness to work with Congress on reclassifying marijuana, which would help ease banking, tax and legal challenges facing cannabis businesses.
It’s the most recent indication that the federal government is reconsidering its stance on marijuana and taking a less aggressive stance on the industry in general, though there is still a long way to go.
Holder said the situation in Colorado and Washington is playing out about as he expected, adding that the two states are in the spotlight as other areas of the country weigh whether to legalize cannabis for recreational use as well.
“I think there might have been a burst of feeling that what happened in Washington and Colorado was going to be soon replicated across the country,” he said. “I’m not sure that is necessarily the case. I think a lot of states are going to be looking to see what happens in Washington, what happens in Colorado before those decisions are made in substantial parts of the country.”