Big news in Colorado and Washington: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of the two states that the federal Department of Justice would not interfere with their recent legalization of recreational cannabis. Though the citizens of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize last year, that hasn’t stopped federal authorities from raiding dispensaries in the past. Hopefully, that will change now.
Deputy AG James Cole also issued a memo to U.S. attorneys, explaining they should expect that “states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety.”
However, the memo does leave room for the DOJ to prosecute if people or groups are found to be distributing to minors, funding criminal enterprises, sending weed to states where it isn’t legal, using firearms, driving while high, or growing on public land. As HuffPo points out, this leaves “prosecutors bent on targeting marijuana businesses with a fair amount of leeway.” A DOJ official offered dispensaries using cartoons to promote their product as an example, saying that could be seen as marketing with the intent of distributing to minors.
The statement and memo may have been prompted by Senator Patrick Leahy, who pressed Holder to make his position on weed clear earlier this week.
Read the full memo here.