Lameduck Attorney General Eric Holder Questions Marijuana’s Legal Classification

Attorney General Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder

Eric Holder, who recently announced he is stepping down as U.S. Attorney General, gave his strongest statements regarding marijuana prohibition during an interview with Yahoo News’s Katie Couric on Tuesday. He said it’s time to reconsider marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, the most restrictive classification the federal government places on narcotics. To provide perspective, other schedule 1 drugs include heroin and LSD. As a result, researchers and doctors are severely limited in how they can use these drugs.

Reclassifying marijuana under a less restrictive schedule would be a dramatic turnaround in the drug war and lend legitimacy for using medical marijuana at the federal level.

“I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves — whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin,” Holder said. “[T]he 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.”

While Holder wouldn’t commit to decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, he said the country should closely monitor legalization in Colorado and Washington for insight.

“While decriminalization and legalization are largely up to an act of Congress, the US attorney general holds a lot of power in deciding when to review a drug’s schedule, as I explained before,” Holder said. “But the process also involves significant scientific and bureaucratic processes, some of which are already underway for marijuana.”