When it comes to reforming the marijuana laws in the United States, Attorney General Loretta Lynch believes that it should be left up to individual states to decide how they want to legalize the leaf—while the role of the federal government should be to bust drug traffickers and to provide guidance in keeping reefer out of the hands of children.
During a recent interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News, Lynch attempted to explain her position on the cannabis issue during a time when more states are moving to make the herb a part of their local economy.
“I think states have to make those decisions on their own,” Lynch said. “They listen to their citizens and they take actions. What we have said and what we continue to say is that states have to also have a system designed to, number one, mitigate violence associated with their marijuana industries. And number two, and perhaps most importantly, keep young people, children away from the products.”
As for the scope of federal marijuana enforcement, Lynch explained that it is still the responsibility of drug enforcers to respond to concerns that marijuana from legal states is trickling into areas of prohibition.
“We do still intervene, and we will still intervene in those areas,” she said.
Ever since taking over for Eric Holder earlier this year, Lynch has maintained that she believes Holder’s policy on respecting state marijuana laws is “effective, consistent and rational.” Holder’s position was detailed in a 2014 memo that identified eight enforcement areas to be prioritized by federal prosecutors.
Unfortunately, when Todd pressed the attorney general for a comment on the subject of rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, she redirected her response to federal drug policy rather than provide a definitive answer.
When asked whether the federal government should increase its enforcement threshold in legal states in an effort to combat drug trafficking and issues with children getting their hands on edibles, Lynch’s response remained vague.
“We still have a very strong enforcement policy there, and we’ve said repeatedly that states need to have a regime in place to deal with these issues and the federal government is still intervening and is still looking at situations and cases where those are the issues,” she said. “Our overall goal is the protection of the American people.”
Lynch did make it clear during her confirmation hearing in January that she did not “support the legalization of marijuana” and that she intended to maintain the Department of Justice’s position on the issue if selected as attorney general.