Where AG Eric Holder Stands on Rescheduling Marijuana

Slowly but surely, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder appears to be coming around to the idea of rescheduling marijuana on the federal level. Cannabis is currently listed in Schedule 1 for drugs with "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment," along with heroin and 63 other opiates.

In an interview with Katie Couric, Holder states:

"I think it's certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves - whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as heroin, especially given what we've seen recently with regard to heroin, the progression of people using opioids to heroin use, the spread and destruction heroin is perpetrating all around our country. And to see how, by contrast, what the impact is on marijuana use. It can be destructive if used in certain ways. But the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves. And use science as the basis for making that determination."

In April, marijuana advocates got all excited when Holder told a House Appropriations Committee hearing, "We'd be more than glad to work with Congress," regarding rescheduling marijuana. "It's something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made."

However, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing five days later, Holder refused to budge on the issue when grilled by Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen. Here's how it went:

Cohen: You have the authority under Title 21 to initiate a request to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to do a study to look into marijuana and Schedule I, and then you could just change it. In my humble opinion, there's no way that marijuana should be Schedule I, the same class as heroin and LSD as it is in the code. It has medical benefit, and to be Schedule I it says it's no medical benefit. That's just fallacious. It's nothing like heroin, that's absurd. But the administration, who's acted on immigration, who's acted on environmental policy, acting on minimum wages and etc. - why won't the Administration act with the pen and the phone to help people out with taking this out of Schedule I so this can be studied, because we're all in favor of research?

Holder: I think we've acted in a responsible way… I think we have acted appropriately.

Cohen: For Schedule I all you have to do is to ask the Secretary to make a scientific and medical evaluation, and after that then you can go further and make a determination of whether it should be Schedule I. Why will you not ask the Secretary under Title 21 Chapter 13 to initiate that program to get marijuana out of Schedule I? It's obviously not Schedule I!

Holder: Well, what's obvious to one is perhaps not obvious to another.

Cohen: Why not initiate the opportunity for the Secretary to make the study and base it on science? Until you do that it's not going to happen.

Holder: Well, as I said, withIn the world in which I have primary responsibility, I think we have acted in a way that is appropriate.

In the Couric interview, she also asked: Given what we know now, do you think marijuana should be decriminalized at the federal level?

Holder: That's something for Congress to decide.

Couric: What's your position on it?

Holder: We've taken a look at the experiments that are going on in Colorado and in Washington, and we're going to see what happens there. That will help inform us as to what we want to do on the federal level.

Couric: For you, the jury is still out?

Holder: Yes, it is.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.