(SOURCE: SFGate.com) Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday defended the Justice Department's pursuit of medical marijuana growers and dispensers, saying they "took advantage" of state medical marijuana laws.
Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Holder acknowledged the Justice Department had broken with the Bush administration and pledged not to go after anyone acting within state law.
Nevertheless, those involved in large-scale marijuana growing and distribution have "come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws and going beyond that which the states have authorized," Holder said in response to questions from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. "Those are the only cases that we have been going after."
Nadler pointed out that as a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama had promised that he wouldn't use "Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."
But since 2009, federal agents and prosecutors have conducted about 200 raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers and brought more than 60 indictments, Nadler said.
Much of the federal crackdown has taken place in California, one of 17 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have medical marijuana laws on the books. Medical marijuana advocates in California have accused the Obama administration of duplicity in its evolving policy positions.
But Holder insisted the Justice Department has limited its enforcement actions "to those individuals (and) organizations that are acting out of conformity ... with state laws."