Colorado Republican Rips Holder on Marijuana

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s decision not to challenge marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington has one Centennial State Republican fuming.

On Tuesday, Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado penned a pointed letter to Holder torching the DOJ's decision, given that federal law makes possession of the drug a criminal offense.

"Do you believe the DOJ has the authority to override federal law?" Gardner asked in his correspondence with Holder. "Do you believe you have the authority to change the law without the approval of Congress?"

Gardner, as you might expect, opposed the Colorado ballot initiative last November legalizing marijuana in the state.

In the letter, he goes on to question "whether this action sets precedent to allow states to opt out of other federal laws," and, as William Shakespeare might say, therein lies the rub: In what other case might a state want to opt out of a federal law? Obamacare, anyone?

He writes:

"The new DOJ policies seem to imply that federal authorities will not preempt state laws. Does this set precedent of 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. If you do not agree that there is a precedent set, would you explain the inconsistencies of why in certain areas federal law may be deemed irrelevant, but not in others?"