Washington and Colorado Brace for Clash with Obama Justice Dept. over Legal Marijuana
Having gone where no state has gone before in legalizing recreational marijuana use, Colorado and Washington now await the response from the federal government.
On Election Day, voters in both states overwhelmingly approved ballot measures that decriminalized the purchase and use of small amounts of marijuana, each by a margin of 55% to 45%. The new laws transcend what 17 states previously have done by legalizing the drug only for medical use.
The Obama administration quietly made it clear before the election that it would not allow any state to sanction recreational marijuana. However, officials were careful not to make too much noise about the initiatives, especially in swing state Colorado, which President Barack Obama narrowly won over Mitt Romney.
According to The Washington Post, administration officials are now debating how to respond to the situations in Colorado and Washington.
“The most likely outcome will be that the Justice Department will prevent the laws from going into effect by announcing that federal law preempts the state initiatives,” Sari Horwitz wrote.
Under Colorado’s Amendment 64, anyone 21 and older can buy up to an ounce of marijuana at state-regulated retail stores. Washington’s new law (Initiative 502) also permits adults 21 and older to purchase up to an ounce of dried marijuana, or small amounts of products containing marijuana.
The Washington law is due to go into effect December 9 and the one in Colorado January 5.
To Learn More:
Legalized Marijuana Initiatives Leave Federal Government Wrestling With Policy (by Sari Horwitz, Washington Post)
Legal Battle Looms Over Marijuana Initiatives (by Sari Horwitz, Washington Post)
Obama Justice Department Set to Overrule any State that Legalizes Marijuana (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Oakland Sues Obama Administration over Loss of Tax Revenue Due to Medical Marijuana Crackdown (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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