The latest nominee for Attorney General says that she does not agree with President Obama that weed is no more dangerous than alcohol and she would not support legalization.
Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is currently facing confirmation hearings in front of Congress to take over the AG position from Eric Holder. According to Think Progress:
When asked by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) if she supports legalization, Lynch responded “No I do not.” When Sessions probed her on President Obama’s position on marijuana, Lynch continued, “I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support the legalization nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as Attorney General.”
While it may be technically true that the official Justice Department policy does not support full legalization, the agency has made a concerted effort to back off prosecuting anyone who complies with state laws. In 2013, the DOJ released a memo stating that they would no “leave recreational and medical pot dispensaries alone in states that it believes are regulating them adequately.” Additionally, in December of last year, an amendment was attached to the latest federal spending bill that makes it against regulation for any federal money to be spent on prosecuting medical weed dispensaries or patients that abide by state laws.
According to NPR, Senator Sessions then specifically asked Lynch about President Obama’s postition on weed:
The senator then read aloud a quote from Obama from last January, in which he told The New Yorker, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
When Sessions asked Lynch whether she agreed with that assessment, she said, “Well, senator, I certainly don’t hold that view, and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share.”
While it’s possible that Lynch is just playing politics for the confirmation hearings, it does not bode well for supporters of legalization that she doesn’t seem to intend to follow current policies and doesn’t agree with the Commander-in-Chief about the relative harmlessness of the drug.
(Photo: Don Goofy)