Attorney General Loretta Lynch Supports Letting States Handle Cannabis Laws

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd last week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that states should have the right to make decisions about legalizing marijuana, but noted that the federal government should play a role in making sure minors stay away from the drug.

“I think states have to make those decisions on their own. They listen to their citizens and they take actions,” said Lynch. “What we have said and what we continue to say is that states have to also have a system designed to, number one, mitigate violence associated with their marijuana industries. And number two, and perhaps most importantly, keep young people, children away from the products.”

Lynch cited the accidental ingestion of marijuana edibles as a top priority for the federal government: “We’re seeing a number of situations where children gain access to products that look like candy or cookies or cakes. The purity is different and they’re becoming very, very ill,” she said.

Lynch also noted that the federal government would continue to intervene in cases where a state that neighbors one that has legalized marijuana is having problems with interstate trafficking: ““We also have concerns — and states have expressed this to me — where a state that has not legalized this particular substance sees people traveling across state lines to obtain it,” she said. “We do still intervene and we will still intervene in those areas.”

When Todd pressed Lynch regarding her stance on whether marijuana should be reclassified under federal law, the attorney general remained opaque. In her confirmation hearing, Lynch had stated that she was personally against the legalization of marijuana:

“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,” she said then.


Photo Credit: US Department of Education

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