Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said that he believes that the federal government should end marijuana’s classification alongside heroin as a hardcore Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use.
When asked during a comprehensive Tuesday PBS interview on criminal justice reform if marijuana should be decriminalized, Holder replied, “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. 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.”
He also said of decriminalization, “That conversation I think ought to be had with regard to marijuana.”
Holder credited Tea Party Republicans with helping to create the right timing for his push for criminal justice reforms while in office and said, “That was a surprising thing. As much as the country was, or at least the federal government were drifting to the right, you were hearing things from people on the right that was supportive of this notion of the need for criminal justice reform. Now, coming at it from perhaps from a different angle, in some ways, people on the right were talking about bankrupting the government, making sure that we didn’t spend as much money as we were on prisons — you know, $80 billion a year or so. … So although on the federal side, there was a drift to the right, a rise of the Tea Party caucus, even among them there was this notion that yeah, we need to do something about our criminal justice system. So the timing was right.”
“The drug war I think is over. Certainly calling it the drug war should be over. But the battle against the narcotics problem in this country has to go on. But we need to take some different approaches, and it should not all be seen as just a criminal justice problem. It ought to be seen as a public health issue,” Holder said.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director and retired Baltimore Police Department and Maryland State Police Maj. Neill Franklin said in a press release on Holder’s comments, “I believe Holder’s statements will inspire more high-ranking officials to speak publicly about the injustices they see in our failed marijuana policies. Ultimately, his support will move us closer to ending marijuana prohibition for good.”
Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell raised questions about Holder’s sincerity in comments with The Chicago Sun-Times and said, “It would have been a lot better if he’d exercised the power to get marijuana rescheduling done while he was still in office. … There’s absolutely no reason marijuana should be in Schedule I, and it would be absurd to keep passing the buck to Congress when federal law clearly gives the administration the power to act.”
In September of 2014, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.