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Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General Nominee, Does Not Support Marijuana Legalization

Jan 29, 2015 • 1:12 PM EST
Uscapitolindaylight.jpg
3 MIN READ  •  By Michael Berger
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During her confirmation speech on Wednesday, Loretta Lynch, the nominee for Attorney General, said that she does not support the growing trend of marijuana legalization. Supporters of marijuana hope that her uneducated stance will not end up being a road block for industry growth.  

During her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, the Republican Senator from Alabama, asked, “Do you support the legalization of marijuana?”

“Senator, I do not,” Lynch replied. She then went on to say that she disagrees with President Barack Obama’s remarks about the drug being no more dangerous than alcohol.

During the hearing, Senator Sessions mentioned a quote from the 2014 New Yorker profile of President Obama. In the profile, the president spoke about how he experimented with marijuana before turning 21. President Obama called pot a “bad habit and a vice” and explained how marijuana is similar to cigarettes and is just as dangerous as alcohol.

When Senator Sessions asked her what she thought about what the president said, Loretta told the Senator that she did not agree with the statements made by President Obama.

“I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance,” Lynch said. “I think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share. But I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support legalization, nor would it be the position if I were confirmed as Attorney General.”

Loretta Lynch’s statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee comes only a few days after President Obama said during a YouTube interview that he expects more states will look into legalization. In fact, at least 10 more states are considering legalizing marijuana over the next two years. A cannabis research firm predicts that 18 states will legalize recreational marijuana by 2020.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but recent legislation passed by both the Senate and the House, and signed by President Obama, helped protect states where marijuana is legal. One of the provisions of the spending bill passed in December 2014 cut funding to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for pursing marijuana operations in states where it is legal under state law. This will enable the cannabis businesses in those states to grow without interference. The Department of Justice also recently passed legislation which gives Native Americans the right to grow and sell recreational marijuana on their tribal lands.

Lindsey Graham, the Senior Republican Senator from South Carolina asked Loretta if she considered the DOJ’s guidance “good policy.”

Loretta did not give a direct answer to Senator Graham’s question and decided to talk about what the DOJ can still do. She said that the DOJ’s guidance still lets federal prosecutors pursue marijuana cases that involved at-risk children, driving under the influence of marijuana, illegal transport across state lines, and edible products that may fall into the hands of children.

Although Loretta Lynch will not be calling the shots, it would have been good to have her take a favorable position on the issue.  In reality though, she could not have addressed the issue of legalization in a more political manner.  

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Authored By

Michael Berger

Michael Berger is Managing Partner of StoneBridge Partners, LLC and Founder of Technical420.com. Prior to entering the cannabis industry, Michael was an Equity Research Analyst at Raymond James Financial covering the Energy Sector. Michael has been featured in publications such as The Street, Bloomberg, US Money News, and hosts various cannabis events across North America.

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