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Holder promises to clarify medical pot position

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Federal law has already been changed to affect new sentences, eliminating a disparity that existed between those caught with crack and those with powder cocaine.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department’s position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators.

“We’re going to bring clarity so that people understand what this policy means and how this policy will be implemented,” Holder said during a visit to a Providence, R.I., institute that specializes in nonviolence.

Holder didn’t go into detail about plans for clarification. But he said the department was wary of medical marijuana dispensaries being seen as a form of de facto marijuana legalization.

Several U.S. states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after U.S. attorneys recently sent stern warnings that everyone from licensed medical marijuana growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The cautions were sent to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island. Federal authorities also recently conducted a series of raids at grow operations in Montana and at dispensaries in Washington.

More than a dozen states have approved the medical use of marijuana, which is not legal under federal law. About half of those states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended plans last month to license three such dispensaries after U.S Attorney Peter Neronha sent him a letter warning that they could lead to prosecutions.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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