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U.S. attorney general says marijuana prosecutions will continue if Prop. 19 passes

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government will continue to enforce marijuana laws even if California's Proposition 19 passes, which  seeks to legalize the drug.

Holder said the Justice Department is committed to enforcing federal laws under the Controlled Substances Act, which bans the use of marijuana and other drugs, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The initiative would allow Californians over the age of 21 to posses an ounce of marijuana and be able to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana plants, according to CBS San Francisco.

Holder made the comments in a letter to nine former directors of the Drug Enforcement Agency, according to the Christian Science Monitor. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca hosted a news conference Friday morning to draw attention to the letter.

"Let me state clearly that the Department of Justice strongly opposes Proposition 19," Holder wrote in the letter. "If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens."

If Prop 19 passes in November, California would be the first state to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana use. Enforcement of federal marijuana laws may be difficult with its passage because nearly all marijuana arrests are made at the state level.