PROVIDENCE JOURNAL: US Attorney General says he'll work with RI, other states on medical pot
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested Thursday that the Justice Department will work with governors and other states to reach a satisfactory resolution of the establishment of dispensaries that sell marijuana to patients in state-sponsored medical marijuana programs.
“We are in the process of working these issues with the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island and other U.S. attorneys across the country,” he said. “My hope is that something in the not too distant future …. will be addressed.”
Holder’s cautious comments came during a news conference at The Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence in the city’s South End. He toured the recently refurbished facility on Oxford Street with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse; Peter F. Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, and state Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.
Afterward, Holder appeared at a news conference where he was peppered with questions about the Justice Department’s position on dispensaries, also known as compassion centers, that sell marijuana to patients who smoke marijuana to deal with chronic pain and other debilitating ailments.
Last month, Neronha delivered a letter to Governor Chafee, saying that the federal authorities may prosecute anyone affiliated with the three dispensaries that the Health Department selected to sell medicinal marijuana in Rhode Island. Chafee got the message and placed a hold on the licensing of the three centers.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in other states opening, or considering opening dispensaries, issued similar threats. Those states include Vermont, Maine, Montana and Colorado.
In Washington state, the two U.S. attorneys there, Mike Ormsby and Jenny Durkan, went one step further. They said that anyone working in state government that licenses or regulates medical marijuana could be subject to arrest and prosecution. As a result, Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed key pieces of a medical marijuana law, saying she didn’t want to place state employees at risk.
Today, Holder sidestepped questions about whether he would support raids or the arrest of state employees in Rhode Island. He repeatedly said that he hopes more discussions between federal and state officials will led to a fair resolution.
Published by: Providence Journal