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Obama Administration Has No Plans to Sue Washington State Over Legalized Marijuana

Department of Justice finally establishes position on WA, CO, pot laws
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

After months of silence, the U.S. Department of Justice has finally announced their stance on Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana. The verdict?

According to a Department of Justice memo issued Thursday, while the federal government still regards marijuana as illegal, they’re not going to do anything about states passing its use.  From the DOJ memo:

 “…Marijuana remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act and that federal prosecutors will continue to aggressively enforce this statute. To this end, the Department identifies eight (8) enforcement areas that federal prosecutors should prioritize.  These are the same enforcement priorities that have traditionally driven the Department’s efforts in this area.

Outside of these enforcement priorities, however, the federal government has traditionally relied on state and local authorizes to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws. This guidance continues that policy.

For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance.”

So, they’re leaving it up to the states to create and enforce a closely-mandated policy of selling and regulating the drug through state-controlled stores and to carefully monitor amounts sold. They also expect states to strictly enforce laws pertaining to the “outside” growth and sale of pot.

As long as the states maintain a firm grip on the business and strongly enforce the new pot rules, the feds are keeping their hands off. Since the passing of I-502 in Washington state, and the Colorado law, Obama has largely avoided the issue of legalized pot.


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