Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said it: cannabis is not addictive. That statement greatly contradicts the backward views of the current attorney general, Jeff Sessions, about the drug.
In an interview with NY1, the country’s former top law enforcement officer has expressed that he is not worried about cannabis legalization leading to a surge in addiction cases.
Holder said that he has “never seen any scientific evidence” pointing to concerns about addiction through the use of cannabis.
“I have never seen any scientific evidence pointing you to concerns about addiction through the use of marijuana.” Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
And although Holder did not move for the federal reclassification of marijuana back when he was still in office and had the power to do so, he had expressed his support for such change months after leaving his post in April 2015.
In an interview with PBS in 2015, Holder said that he certainly thinks cannabis should be rescheduled. “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate,” he said in that interview.
Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, on the other hand, was open about her opposition to cannabis legalization. However, she has said that the Obama administration’s approach to not interfere with the individual states when it comes to enacting their own cannabis laws is effective. She had also said that marijuana is not a gateway drug and is not responsible for pushing users to try out harder drugs.
Rescheduling cannabis for research
Holder said that cannabis needs to be moved from its Schedule I classification so that research can be done.
With cannabis being a Schedule I substance, scientists find it very difficult to conduct studies and clinical trials to investigate the drug and its effects on people with certain medical conditions.
The Cole Memorandum
While he was still attorney general, Holder had done nothing to officially reclassify cannabis and instead continually passed the issue to Congress.
However, it was during his term that the Justice Department issued the Cole Memorandum. Specifically, the Cole Memo was issued in August 2013 by the U.S. Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole. It governed the federal prosecution of marijuana-related offenses and stated that the Justice department won’t enforce federal cannabis prohibition in states that have legalized the drug in some form.
In January 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum.
Reacting to the rescission, Holder said that the federal government should continue to let the states implement their own cannabis legalization laws.
According to him, he thinks allowing the states to experiment will lead to a national consensus about what the government should do regarding cannabis. “Let these be laboratories to see where we want to be,” he said.
On cannabis decriminalization and unfair enforcement
Holder also spoke about the enforcement of cannabis criminalization.
He said that one of the things that concern him is the racial disparity that is apparent in the enforcement of cannabis laws. African Americans and Latinos, he noted, are using weed at just the same rate as whites, yet the rate of arrests for these minority groups is four to five times higher than that for whites.
This, Holder said, is something extremely troubling for him.
Holder also said that it is time for the federal government to consider decriminalizing cannabis. He said that the issue “ought to be a part of the conversation.”
There are drugs Holder said he just can’t imagine ever decriminalizing — such as crack cocaine. However, the whole question of whether cannabis should be decriminalized is a conversation he said he I thinks the U.S. should engage in.