POLITICS

DEA Won't Crack Down On Armored Car Companies Working With Pot Shops, DOJ Official Says

Deputy Attorney General James Cole speaks during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill July 31, 2013 in
Deputy Attorney General James Cole speaks during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill July 31, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing on privacy rights and oversight related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amid leaks that the US National Security Agency has engaged in widespread collection of records of domestic phone calls in the United States. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- The Drug Enforcement Administration never told armored car companies not to work with state-legal cannabis providers, Deputy Attorney General James Cole claimed Tuesday.

Armored car company representatives told medical marijuana dispensaries last month that they were pressured by the feds not to work with their businesses because marijuana is illegal under federal law, and a DEA spokesman in San Francisco even confirmed their instructions to the companies. But Cole said he was told the DEA never gave the armored car companies specific guidance and was just making general inquiries about their work.

The interactions between armored car companies and the DEA happened before an Aug. 29 Justice Department memo instructing federal authorities to prosecute marijuana providers in compliance with state laws only under certain circumstances.

"From what I understand, DEA was merely asking questions of the armored car companies at the time as to what their practices are, I think those questions occurred before the guidance memo was put out," Cole told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. "Certainly at the present time I don't believe there's any effort to instruct the armored car companies not to do anything at this point."

"The implication is out there, and I would hope it would get cleared up because I don't want to see a shootout somewhere and have innocent people, or law enforcement, endangered by that," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Cole.

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