Marijuana now legal in WA, CO next – will the feds clamp down?

Last night, marijuana smokers in Washington state celebrated in public, as that state’s legalization went into effect.

But state officials in Washington and Colorado are warning people to be cautious. While state law allows (or will allow) marijuana, federal law is another story. And for college campuses, there are federal laws that link federal grants to policing marijuana, so it’s going to be an issue for college campus police.

Legalization advocates are not convinced the feds will be actively pursuing marijuana cases, but that remains to be seen. We may not have a clear picture on the direction of the feds for a while so in the meantime, celebrate with caution.

In a new HuffPost poll, most Americans want the federal government to state out of Washington state’s and Colorado’s way:

Fifty-one percent of Americans in the new HuffPost/YouGov poll said that in the two states that have legalized marijuana use for adults, the federal government should exempt any adults following state laws from federal drug law enforcement. Only 30 percent said the federal government should enforce its drug laws in those states in the same way it does in any other state.

 The NYT reports that the White House and Justice Department are considering pursuing legal action against the two states:

Marijuana use in both states continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. One option is to sue the states on the grounds that any effort to regulate marijuana is pre-empted by federal law. Should the Justice Department prevail, it would raise the possibility of striking down the entire initiatives on the theory that voters would not have approved legalizing the drug without tight regulations and licensing similar to controls on hard alcohol.

Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response. But such a response would raise political complications for President Obamabecause marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him.

Alarmed?  Really?

NBC News:


Marijuana via Shutterstock

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes encouraged celebrants to enjoy their highs inside closed doors.”I think that they should acknowledge this newfound right,” he told NPR station KUOW. “I think they should celebrate in the privacy of their homes if they choose to do so. And be thankful that we’re no longer arresting some 10,000 Washingtonians a year in the state of Washington and spending well over $100 million in law enforcement resources on that.”

In Colorado, a measuring legalizing marijuana use and possession for those over 21 will go into effect next month. But one place where federal laws will have an impact: college campuses.

“In order not to lose federal funds, we need to comply with federal law,” University of Colorado at Boulder spokeswoman Malinda Hiller-Huey told The Denver Post.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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17 Responses to “Marijuana now legal in WA, CO next – will the feds clamp down?”

  1. Tom Holmes says:

    This is something that bothers me. The general idea of legalizing marijuana is fine, but doing it in the states while it’s still illegal under federal law is basically nullification.

  2. BeccaM says:

    I guess you don’t know very many Hindus.

  3. None needed. It can be mathematically proven that anyone who uses the capitalized word “God” while referring to a “She” or “Her” is just trying to take the piss. Nobody ever uses that combination of words seriously, ever.

  4. BeccaM says:

    You need some snark tags, friend.

  5. kevin_hunt says:

    Now you can distill 10,000 gallons of alcohol legally with a free permit from the TTB (ATF).


  6. kevin_hunt says:

    “(who can go f*ck themselves)”

    Well put!

  7. kevin_hunt says:

    Once relaxed marijuana laws get passed, it is difficult to remove them.

    The Feds tried to stop Alaska from decriminalizing marijuana in the 70’s , but growing 24 plants and possessing 4 ounces in one’s own home still has no penalty in Alaska.

    The Feds made some busts and arrests at the dispensaries in CA, but anyone that wants to still can grow their 6 plants and not be arrested by the states or the feds.

    It’s gonna be hard to put the genie back in the bottle for the feds in CO and WA.

  8. All We Need Is A Bag Of Weed says:

    President Obama has said himself that pursuing the enforcement of federal marijuana laws as they apply to the situations in California and Washington is not a priority of his administration. So basically all concerned parties have at least four more years of relatively worry-free use. But if the Republican party manages to somehow remove their collective heads from their posteriors and win the election in 2016, well, we all remember what George W. Bush did in California. Enjoy it while it lasts, friends!

  9. Cletus says:

    It seems funny to me that the biggest kickback this story has gotten is everyone’s concern over just what Obama’s Justice Department will do. From what I’ve seen, there’s been zero to minimal of the usual hemming and hawing you’d expect to hear from those on the right regarding anything those on the left are in favor of. Heck, even Pat Robertson came out in favor of legalization! It really is time to stop dicking around and remove the Federal prohibition.

  10. Nigel says:

    Many people read and believe stories in the bible, the spontaneous pregnancy of Mary, manna falling from heaven. Who are you to judge others that have had weed magically or religiously appear in their possession. No one said it was bought, sold, or grown. I’m merely informing you that God, in her, great wisdom and generosity manifested this gift for me and many other believes in the great state of Washington. Please don’t infringe upon other religious liberty.

  11. What I fear is that the Justice Department will get it into its head one day that it needs to flex a bit of muscle and show who’s still really boss when it comes to drug laws in this country, and decide just to raid growers and dispensaries who can easily be nailed on heavy-duty federal charges. The “medical” excuse won’t count for two cents.

    I’ve never liked the whole “medical” dodge anyway. (Feel free to call me a hypocrite in this regard, by the way, because I did obtain a permit on the grounds of chronic low back pain. The pain is real, but the efficacy of weed in relieving the pain is doubtful at best.) That there are constituents of marijuana that have medical utility, I don’t doubt for a second (even if it’s never done me any good) and it’s idiotic that, federally, marijuana is declared to be of no medical value and that a petition to reschedule the drug to allow for its medical use failed last year (

    But, let’s be honest, smoking weed is a piss-poor way to administer a dose of a useful drug, and the side-effects are pretty crappy for a drug that’s supposed to just relieve pain. I count not being able to think straight and wanting to gorge yourself cos of the munchies as unpleasant side effects. Say whatever bad shit you want about opiates, at least I can still more or less function normally while on them, which isn’t something I can say about pot. Anyway, it’s the worst-kept secret in the world that the “medical” exception is a bit of a run-around that’s spawned dozens of Doctor Feelgoods writing prescriptions for people who just want a more convenient and semi-legal way to get high.

    Getting stoned shouldn’t be illegal any more than getting drunk is, so I’m all for proper legalization. I’m also in favor of intensive research into possible medical applications of marijuana but with the aim of producing some sort of drug that can be administered in a measured dose, like an opiate can, and which doesn’t make you dopey and ravenous and all the rest of it. So long as marijuana is of no scientific value according to the federal government that can’t happen and that ought to change. I don’t see it changing any time soon, at all.

  12. A reader in Colorado says:

    Yes, because everyone knows that when states have mob votes to harm gay people, the feds can do nothing.

    But when there’s a popular vote to legalize a harmless plant, that’s when the feds must act to overturn the popular will in those states.

    Pathetic, Obama administration. Truly pathetic.

  13. KerrynowCampau says:

    Hopefully the $$ saved in not prosecuting marijuana smokers AND the money made by the states from taxing it will make up for any monies withheld by the feds (who can go f*ck themselves)

  14. ezpz says:

    Actually, with a little ingenuity and a little “inconvenience”…….from NPR:

    “How To Sell Marijuana Legally, In Four Inconvenient Steps”

  15. Oh that’s funny, I didnt’ realize that.

  16. BeccaM says:

    The situation in WA and (soon) CO is not unlike the alcohol Prohibition era. The Volstead Act did not make it illegal to have or consume alcohol, but it was illegal to buy, sell, or transport it for the purpose of selling. (Little known fact: It remained legal to make small quantities of home-brewed wine and hard cider, up to 200 gal/year, but not beer, and distilling was absolutely out of bounds.)

  17. theophrastvs says:

    while it’s currently legal to possess an ounce of marijuana (in Washington State) there are no legal routes (outside of a largely farcical “medical” dispensary) to obtain it(!) this situation is supposed to change — but “we’ll see” is the future in that regard.

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