As Loretta Lynch settles in as the new Attorney General, states with medical and recreational marijuana laws begin to speculate the new position of the Department of Justice. Former A.G. Eric Holder's policy allowed states to legalize marijuana without interference, and his openness to the conversation around rescheduling marijuana bode well for real change in federal legislation.

In a recent New York Times article, Matt Apuzzo and Jennifer Steinhauer report that although Lynch will support Holder's initiative to lower sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes, it isn't one of her priorities. Along those lines, Lynch intends to tolerate states' decisions to legalize marijuana, but is no advocate herself of national legalization. During her confirmation hearing, when asked about President Obama's opinion that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, Lynch responded that she didn't agree with that "view of marijuana as a substance."

"I think the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I'm able to share," Lynch said. "But I can tell you that not only do I not support legalization of marijuana, it is not the position of the Department of Justice currently to support legalization, nor would it be the position if I were confirmed as attorney general."

Bringing marijuana down to a less-dangerous classification would be the first legitimate step towards federal legalization. Then international drug treaties would have to be amended, so progress will require a lot more than lukewarm compliance with Holder's previous efforts. The question is whether Lynch's experience as Attorney General will expose her to enough information that she reconsiders her stance.

Lynch admitted that she has never tried marijuana, but that doesn't mean she has to take her first bong to get hip for the cause. Credible institutions nationwide are researching the medical benefits of marijuana's complex cannabinoid system; a willing and patient mind can educate themselves of its vast potential.

To say no to legalization isn't just halting recreational and medical use, it's stopping the development of an industrial hemp economy that could replace plastic, cotton and unsustainable building materials. Hopefully Lynch won't limit herself with a black and white perspective of marijuana, and sees how much bigger the conversation around legalization has grown.