Attorney General Eric Holder is trying to walk an increasingly fraught middle ground on cannabis policy. Attention has turned to the federal government on the issue of marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD, among many others. Schedule I drugs are deemed to be harmful and have no medical benefit. With 20 states plus Washington D.C. having a medical marijuana law on the books, and Maryland set to be the 17th state to decriminalize pot, it’s clear that many state legislatures disagree. Polls have found up to 81% national support for medical cannabis.
Holder said he’d be “more than glad to work with Congress,” on rescheduling cannabis at a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, but “work with Congress” is an important qualifier. This shows that Holder is not willing to take unilateral action.
That’s a shame, because Holder and Obama do not need Congress to reschedule marijuana. The Department of Justice has the authority to do so on its own.
At a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) grilled Holder on his inaction with regards to cannabis.
“Why won’t the administration act with the pen and the phone to help people out by taking this out of schedule I so it can be studied?” Cohen asked. “Because I think we’re all in favor of research.”
Holder deflected this and other swings from Cohen with non-answers about how he believes that he and his department “have acted in a way that is appropriate.”
Cohen has long argued that the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug makes it difficult for anyone to take U.S. drug policy seriously, noting to Holder that it “breeds contempt for our laws.”
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.