Small bag of marijuana

Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general, said in a recently-released interview that he believes marijuana should not be classified as a Schedule I drug. This is the classification reportedly for drugs that are considered to have no medical use and to be dangerous. However, Holder noted that "we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate." There are other inconsistencies in the classifications. Some highly-addictive drugs including cocaine are in the lower Schedule II category.

Holder's Views Seem to Have Softened, Unlike His Successor's

Some marijuana legalization advocates wish that Holder would have used his authority as AG to do more to move the drug to a less restrictive category when he served in the Obama administration. In 2014, when he was still serving in the administration, he did address the topic of rescheduling marijuana, but in a less direct way, saying that it was "something that I think we need to ask ourselves."

Holder's successor, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, seems to have stricter views about the drug. In her confirmation hearing for the position, she said that she does not support legalizing it.

Who Has the Authority to Reclassify and Decriminalize Marijuana?

The Controlled Substances Act determines what schedule controlled substances fall into. This act is less than consistent. For example, the synthetic version of THC, known as dronabinol, is what produces the psychoactive effects of some marijuana, and it's listed as Schedule III. Even though in this interview, Holder called on Congress to reschedule the drug, either the Drug Enforcement Agency or the executive branch of the federal government could do so without lawmakers' approval.

Whether Holder chooses to use his powers of persuasion to try to convince the Obama administration to reschedule the drug before January of next year remains to be seen. Of course, what happens after that will, in large part, be determined by who is elected president in November. In the meantime, since marijuana laws and their enforcement vary significantly throughout the country, it's essential that people know what the laws in their state are for both recreational and medical marijuana. Even if you purchased it in a state where it is legal to do so, this won't matter if you are caught with it in a state where possession remains illegal, recreationally or medicinally.

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