Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in the administration of President Barack Obama, this week came out in favor of changing cannabis’ status as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
His unexpected comments could help boost support for rescheduling marijuana, which would be a major win for the cannabis industry.
“I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled. You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate,” Holder said on Tuesday during an interview on the PBS program Frontline. “So at a minimum, I think Congress needs to do that. Then I think we need to look at what happens in Colorado and what happens in Washington (State).”
“(I)t would be absurd to keep passing the buck to Congress when federal law clearly gives the administration the power to act,” said Tom Angell, president of the Marijuana Majority.
It was during Holder’s tenure that the Department of Justice released policy guidance in 2013, known as the “Cole Memo,” that essentially instructed federal officials not to prosecute marijuana businesses in legalized states so long as they didn’t violate certain provisions, such as not selling product to minors or diverting product to the black market or non-legalized states.
The views of the current attorney general, Loretta Lynch, have evolved from opposing federal marijuana legalization to letting states handle the issue internally.