Polis Grills Attorney General Holder on Medical Pot

The Huffington Post reports from Rep. Jared Polis’ first day on the House Judiciary Committee:

Polis…asked about the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana shops in California, where U.S. attorneys have closed hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in just two months’ time. She questioned whether Colorado could expect to get different treatment.

“It’s my understanding,” Polis said, “[California] did not have a functional state-level regulatory authority. Colorado does have an extensive state regulatory and licensing system for medical marijuana, and I’d like to ask whether our thoughtful state regulation … provides any additional protection to Colorado from federal intervention.”

Holder’s response, though vague, offered Polis some assurance, while seeming to suggest that state-level regulation in California is inadequate.

“Where a state has taken a position, has passed a law and people are acting in conformity with the law — not abusing the law — that would not be a priority with the limited resources of our Justice Department,” Holder said.

Rep. Polis worked Attorney General Eric Holder over on numerous aspects of Colorado’s medical marijuana law in contrast to California’s, where the Department of Justice has recently cracked down on medical marijuana dispensaries. Polis sought to differentiate between California’s less-regulated medical marijuana system, and Colorado’s state-managed and tightly regulated program as mandated by our state’s Amendment 20. Holder was vague as the story above suggests, but seemed to indicate that Colorado’s state-managed medical marijuana industry would be a lower priority for the Justice Department’s “limited resources.” That said, we doubt Holder is as ignorant of Colorado medical marijuana law as he claims, and he didn’t give Polis anything that might help Colorado dispensaries get their bank accounts reopened.

But with marijuana legalization emerging as one of those bellwether generational shift issues in the polls, we expect Rep. Polis will get many more chances to ask the hard questions.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. allyncooper says:

    the “limited resources” of the Justice Department be focused on investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the collapse of our economy ( the banksters and their corporate accomplices) rather than a plant that grows out of the ground.

    Holder and his Justice Dept. has done very little about the former.  

  2. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    I am so sick of politicians yelling about Jobs and the economy and then slamming the MMJ community.  

    We are the only industry that is creating jobs without the assistance of federal programs and tax dollars! We have created over 5000 direct hires in JUST DENVER.  We also give over $330,000 a month to the City of Denver.  Add in fees and the MMJ industry donates over $25 million per year to Colorado.  TIME FOR THE ELECTED OFFICIALS TO GET OFF OUR BACK AND WORK WITH US!

    I believe we will see many 527s directed at both Dems and Repubs that are anti-Jobs, anti-Revenue Creation and anti-Social Justice around the arrests of Black and Brown people! And the Dems in my book are the worst.  Because these are things we are supposed to care about.

    Thank you Jared, for being the ONLY Colorado elected official doing what you were hired for! REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE OF COLORADO.

    • Car 31 says:


      Your industry is one of many contributing money to the state. There are plenty of electeds representing their constitutents.

      Politicians have worked with your industry over the last three years to establish the regulatory environment Jared is crowing about. Just like every other business in the state, you don’t get to do everything you want to do just because you’re making money.

      Change the federal law, we can have a conversation. Until then, as I said, I’m damn happy that not every elected official is bought into the idea that pot is good and selling drugs is a way to save our economy.

      • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

        Yes, we can help save our economy, put thousands of people to work and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have been given felony convictions for something the last four Presidents have admitted to enjoying.

        Car, the issue is so simple.  Too many Americans smoke pot for us to continue to make criminals out of them.  If this is about public safety, then let’s have that conversation and make cigarettes and alcohol illegal tomorrow morning.

        I mean the public needs protecting right?  What about the children of people with a bar in their house and a frig full of beer?  Or second hand smoke!  We must save the children!  We must save the CHILDREN!

        Could we please quit acting like we are a puritan society and admit that cannabis is not going away.  It is not going away.

        The only question is do the cartels control it or do licensed businesses?  Your Choice!

        According to Forbes, Cannabis is a $113 Billion dollar industry.  Alcohol is a $130 billion dollar industry.  

        1. Do we think it is just “boys in hood” and college kids smoking?  According the Colorado registry it is 41 year old men and 43 year old women.

        2. How much more debt should we create  to maintain an inflated prison system for non violent offenses?  We have more people locked up than China.  Yep, we should be proud.

        3. How many CU students were arrested last year for pot offensives?  

        4. How many Black men were arrested in Aurora last year for pot offensives?

        The facts are the facts.  Prohibtion is a total failure.  Thank you, Jared.

        • allyncooper says:

          And how many have died from acute cannibus consumption?

        • Car 31 says:

          Because in your previous post you stated

          Jared is the ONLY leader in Colorado standing up for Jobs!


          Thank you Jared, for being the ONLY Colorado elected official doing what you were hired for! REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE OF COLORADO.

          A bit over the top, but I go there too, so thanks for clarifying.

          You’re really passionate about pot. While it may be simple to you, it isn’t to others, like me.

          You call me puritan for speaking like this. Well, you know what? It is fucking hard enough to raise kids in this state without them having greater access to pot.

          Alcohol, pot, pills, porn, video games, cigarettes…maybe the question isn’t why ‘puritans’ don’t want to legalize another drug, maybe the question is why this country wants to do everything it can to numb itself?

          We’ll see what the voters say if the ballot initiative comes up next year, but I’m tired of being berated by dispensary owners and advocates acting like I voted for legalization and like I owe them something because I voted for MMJ patients to grow five plants.

          Of course you’re making billions of dollars around the country without the help of the government. You sell drugs! Ain’t rocket science.

          Maybe it’s time for those in your industry to stop screaming that I’m wrong and start proving to me that the medicine works and that thousands of card holders are not suffering from chronic pain.

          Maybe it’s past time for your industry to get off it’s high horse and realize that some of us don’t like dispensaries, not because we’re all anti-pot and anti-cool, or whatever. It’s because your industry slithered it’s way into this state, not by the will of the voters but on the backs of paid national activists.

          Maybe when your industry starts giving something to my community instead of drugs, maybe then I’ll engage your industry more instead of fighting back.  

          • Sir Robin says:

            your false canards, general falsehoods, broad and meaningless generalities, etc.

          • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

            This flies in the face of statements made by a number of legislators over the past year that if voters knew what they were in for, they would never have approved medical marijuana in the first place. Apparently most voters aren’t bothered by the proliferation of dispensaries in the state



            The issue here are the politicians and law enforcement, not the people.  Law enforcement makes too much money off marijuana supplying young slave labor for private prisons and politicians are sheep, too afraid to actually lead.  The people are not confused.

            • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

              Jesus Saves: The Fight to Legalize Marijuana Has an Unlikely New Ally: African American Clergy

              Dr. Livingston says he’s talking to other pastors about drug prohibition from a scriptural basis, and cites Amos 5:24. “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream,” he says. “And when you look at the context, you see powerful people using the laws in ways that help powerful people and hurt less-powerful people.”


            • Car 31 says:

              Are you saying the majority of people in CO favor medical marijuana so therefore we should legalize it? Or because most people,  living in places without dispensaries, are okay with MMJ so my opinions about dispensaries selling drugs in my neighborhood aren’t relevant?

              The poll you cited doesn’t ask about dispensaries. It doesn’t ask if the person thinks the intent of amendment XX is being upheld. And when asked about legalization, less than half said legalize pot with the other numbers showing a very divided public.

              So to have an attitude that your industry is the cat’s meow because you’re hiring and making money – I’ll say it again – you sell drugs.

              I support MMJ. I voted for patients and caregivers to grow medicinal plants for their own treatment. I personally don’t like the idea of dispensaries selling the medicine. If we could’ve gone through a pharmacy system with the state growing – that would’ve been ideal for me. Then legitimate patients get their legitimate medicine. Best case scenario, IMO, Polis is successful, pot is de/reclassified, the state steps in and opens pharmacies/grow operations and puts you all out of business. Then we won’t need to buy into the sham anymore  that MMJ clinics are anything else than glorified head shops.  

  3. ArapaGOP says:

    How can you praise a Member of Congress negotiating with the Attorney General over illegal activity they “don’t have time” to prosecute? Federal law is federal law. If Polis wants to change it, that’s fine, but to have a conversation with the nation’s chief law enforcer about what laws they have resources to enforce, clearly because Polis does not WANT them enforced, violated the trust of his office.

    • (Unless you want to increase the DOJ budget by a lot.  Frankly, I think the DOJ needs a lot more money, so they can enforce some white collar crime laws against the banks who defrauded the Federal government, and against Bush Administration officials for committing illegal acts, e.g. Sec. Paulson’s tip-off to Goldman employees about Freddie and Fannie.)

      Polis’ question is a valid concern between the States and the Federal government, even prior to re-classifying MJ.

    • DavidThi808 says:

      ArapaGOP is not a defender of the 10th amendment. Who would-of thought…

  4. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    Colorado voters are also pretty liberal when it comes to the issue of marijuana legalization. 49% think it should generally be legal to only 40% who believe it should be illegal. Independents think it should be legal by a 54/34 spread.

    When it comes to marijuana usage specifically for medical purposes, 68% of voters support it to only 25% that think it should be illegal. Even Republicans support it by a 50/40 margin.


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