US Embassy New Zealand

During remarks at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, former Attorney General Eric Holder called the 2013 Cole Memo, which directed the Department of Justice to take a hands-off approach on legal cannabis programs, “a really good policy” but seemed to not understand Congressional action on the issues, the Washington Examiner reports.

Holder, who served from 2009 to 2015, alleged that Congress has passed legislation preventing federal funds from being used for enforcement in cannabis-legal states; however, there is no federal law prohibiting such action. The only measure protecting federal crackdown is the so-called Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (formally Rohrabacher-Farr) which has been included in every federal budget since 2014 – and was recently tucked into a temporary spending measure which also provided funds for hurricane relief and raised the debt ceiling.

During the appearance, Holder was also critical of current Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that his “almost obsession” with cannabis has put the Justice Department in a “strange place.”

“I think the policy we had in place was a good one: Let the states experiment with the notion that again we have these eight or nine federal factors and if you trigger one of these eight or nine factors the feds are going to be coming in,” Holder said.

It’s worth noting, as Tom Angell did on Twitter, that as Attorney General, Holder could have rescheduled (or descheduled) cannabis during his tenure but didn’t.

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