Leahy Welcomes Long-Awaited DOJ Guidelines For Enforcement Of Federal Marijuana Laws

SJC Chairman To Preside Over Hearing On Issue Next Month, DAG Cole Scheduled To Testify

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday welcomed the Justice Department’s release of guidelines for enforcement of federal marijuana laws in light of action at the state level.

Leahy has pressed the administration for such guidance since last year, when he wrote to the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) after two states voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use.  Leahy also announced earlier this week that the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next month titled “Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.”  Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who released DOJ’s guidelines on Thursday, will testify at the hearing.

“With federal and state policies in conflict, guidance for states and for the law enforcement community has been long awaited and in short supply,” Leahy said.  “I welcome the fact that the Justice Department has now provided this direction as we near the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the variation between state and federal marijuana laws.  Our oversight on this issue was intended to provide movement on this policy question.  All the more in a time when federal resources are especially scarce, the Justice Department should focus on countering and prosecuting violent crime, while respecting the will of the states whose people have voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal and medical use.”  

Leahy added: “I look forward to hearing more about this issue from the Deputy Attorney General at the Judiciary Committee’s hearing next month.”

The hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 10, in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.  A full witness list will be announced closer to the date of the hearing.  Reporters interested in covering the hearing should RSVP to their respective press galleries. 

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