Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s top nominee for Attorney General Eric Holder’s replacement, announced yesterday that she disagreed with the President in regards to the relative safety of marijuana use.
The revelation came during her first day of confirmation hearings for the esteemed law enforcement position. Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alaska Republican, asked whether she supported the legalization of marijuana — Lynch’s response: “Senator, I do not.”
Sen. Sessions read aloud a quote taken from President Obama’s interview with the New Yorker last January. According to the president, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
Lynch responded, “Well, senator, I certainly don’t hold that view, and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion — neither of which I am able to share.”
“Not only do I not support legalization of marijuana — it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently, to support the legalization, nor would it be the position should I become confirmed as attorney general,” she added.
In the past, Lynch has made statements regarding the failure of the Drug War that gave marijuana activists hope. “I do think that there were a lot of issues that went on with the war on drugs — its inception and the way it was carried out,” she said a 2001 interview with PBS. In 2013, she explained, “Arresting more people or building more jails is not the ultimate solution to crime in our society. If there’s one thing we’ve learned it is that there is no one solution.”
Meanwhile, Obama recently admitted in a YouTube interview that he expects more states will legalize recreational cannabis, and that his government’s stance on marijuana enforcement will be one of restraint and respect for states’ rights to pass legalization legislation.
Though Lynch’s recent admission is a major letdown for many Americans, it would be hard to expect Obama’s nominee for the top law enforcement position to openly call for cannabis legalization in the face of heavy opposition still from many Republican leaders. What she and the officials involved in her confirmation hearings failed to address is her stance, if any, on the decriminalization or rescheduling of marijuana — which will likely be the first step to nationwide legalization.
Photo Credit: United States Mission Geneva
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