Dem: Ex-DEA chiefs 'arrogant' to press for pot law nullification

“The federal government should concentrate on shutting down meth labs — not the laboratories of Democracy,”  Cohen said in a statement. “The people of Colorado and Washington voted to implement these laws, and the federal government should respect their will.”

“It is arrogant of these former DEA chiefs to encourage the president to nullify these laws,” he continued. “The fact that these former DEA chiefs are so focused on marijuana possession is why we have lost the war on drugs. The war should be on heroin, meth, crack, cocaine and unauthorized use of prescription drugs — not marijuana possession.”

Eight former heads of the DEA — under Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford — wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) earlier this week encouraging them to press Attorney General Eric Holder to “vigorously enforce” the Controlled Substances Act, which lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

Holder is expected to testify before the Senate panel on Wednesday for its oversight hearing of the Justice Department (DOJ).

“Marijuana is not a harmless substance, nor is it a useful medicine,” the former DEA administrators wrote. “Regular use of marijuana compromises the ability to learn and to remember information by impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention.”

“Research has proven that marijuana is addictive. It is the number one reason why children are admitted to substance abuse treatment in the United States and is second, behind alcohol, for adult treatment admissions.”

Holder told the annual gathering of state attorneys general in Washington, D.C., last week that the DOJ was in the final review stages of the two state laws and that Colorado and Washington government officials could expect a federal decision on the matter soon.

Last November, voters moved to legalize marijuana use in the two states, putting their laws at odds with long-enforced federal regulations. It has forced the DOJ to reassess how it intends to enforce the new state drug laws.

Members of Congress have been compelled to act as well, with nearly a dozen House Democrats introducing several bills recently that would decriminalize marijuana and remove the drug from the list of controlled substances, while requiring the federal government to regulate it and impose penalties on tax evaders.

Holder has met or talked with both governors and attorneys general from Colorado and Washington during the DOJ’s review process, posing a series of questions to the state leaders, such as how they plan to prevent marijuana produced in the state from being trafficked to other states where the drug is not legal.

The former DEA administrators include John Bartels, Robert Bonner, Asa Hutchinson, Thomas Constantine, John Lawn, Donnie Marshall, Peter Bensinger and Francis Mullen.

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