Letter to The Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General -


Date: Sept. 3, 2013
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Marijuana

Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-4) announced today that he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the Department of Justice's (DOJ) recent guidance on marijuana policy given Colorado voters' approval of Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Despite the fact that the DOJ's guidance puts to rest unanswered questions that lingered for almost a year, a whole new set of questions have arisen and they must be answered by the federal government. The letter said, in part:

"I write to question the Department's constitutional authority on overriding federal law and seek answers as to whether this action sets precedent to allow states to opt out of other federal laws.

"While I commend the DOJ for finally issuing guidance after nearly ten months since Colorado voters legalized marijuana's recreation use, its new policies are in contrast to the Controlled Substances Act. Essentially, DOJ policy now allows states like Colorado to opt out of federal marijuana laws. Do you believe the DOJ has the authority to override federal law? Do you believe you have the authority to change law without the approval of Congress?

"In June, I wrote President Obama asking him to explain this Administration's unilateral actions in several areas, with one being DOJ's failure to uphold federal drug laws. I have yet to receive a response, and I still question the constitutionality of this Administration overriding federal law. I am enclosing the letter sent to President Obama for your reference.

"Finally, the new DOJ policies seem to imply that federal authorities will not preempt state laws. Does this set a precedent for other areas? For example, several states have passed laws to opt out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, yet the federal government has consistently said it will take over health insurance industries regardless of states that contest the law. If you do not agree that there is a precedent set, would you explain the inconsistencies of why in certain areas federal law may be deemed irrelevant, but not in others?"