Gardner seeks clarification for Holder’s position on overriding state laws

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) recently questioned the Justice Department’s constitutional authority to override federal law when it issued guidance on Colorado’s marijuana policy.

In a recent letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Gardner said he commended the department for issuing guidance nearly ten months after the state voted to legalize recreational use for marijuana. The new guidance, however, is in contrast to the Controlled Substance Act, according to Gardner.

“Essentially, DOJ policy now allows states like Colorado to opt out of federal marijuana laws,” Gardner said in his letter to Holder. “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?”

Gardner said the department’s actions related to Colorado’s marijuana’s policy imply that federal authority will not preempt state laws and he asked if it 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,” Gardner said.

The letter requested a response on whether or not there is new precedent and for an explanation of the inconsistencies in certain areas of federal law if precedent was not set.