Attorney General Nominee Opposes Marijuana Legalization

By Victoria Kim 01/29/15

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch is out of step with the changing times.

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The nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, revealed that she doesn’t support marijuana legalization or President Barack Obama’s views on pot during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Her answer stood in contrast to previous exchanges with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which included defending the president’s right to take executive action on immigration rules and agreeing that “waterboarding is torture.”

However, when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked, “Do you support the legalization of marijuana?” Lynch replied, “Senator, I do not.”

Sessions went on to quote Obama from last January, when he told The New Yorker, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

When asked if she agreed, Lynch replied,” I certainly don’t hold that view and don’t agree with that view of marijuana as a substance. I think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share. But I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support legalization, nor would it be the position should I be confirmed as attorney general.”

Marijuana is already legal in Colorado and Washington, and will soon be allowed in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia. At least ten more states are considering legalizing marijuana in the next two years.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Lynch would succeed Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September. Last April, he said he was "cautiously optimistic” about efforts in both Colorado and Washington to legalize and regulate marijuana use. As attorney general, he allowed both states to have their ballot-approved laws go into effect while also outlining guidelines for federal prosecutors to curb efforts to pursue small-time drug possession charges.

Obama nominated Lynch to succeed Holder in November 2014. If confirmed, she would be the first African-American woman to hold the office.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr