Colorado and Washington may have legalized weed back in November—hell, the Seattle PD now has snack recommendations for its city's stoners—but there remained one major "What if" for the two states' already paranoid voters. Colorado and Washington's ballot measures technically legalized recreational marijuana use in the states, but: What would Uncle Sam do? Here were two states hazily, yet openly, flaunting federal law.
Obama remarked after November's votes that the DOJ had “bigger fish to fry” than intervening in Colorado and Washington. But he hasn't exactly been the transformative pro-pot president that his high school days might have indicated. In fact, he's been pretty awful. Would he press DOJ head Eric Holder to act on dispensary owners? Would the DOJ step in and crack down on growers and sellers, just as it's done in California and Washington and elsewhere across the country?
No, it turns out. Colorado and Washington are safe, according to Holder, who said today that the DOJ would "allow the states to create a regime that would regulate and implement the ballot initiatives that legalized the use of marijuana for adults."
Said Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project:
Today’s announcement is a major and historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition. The Department of Justice's decision to allow implementation of the laws in Colorado and Washington is a clear signal that states are free to determine their own policies with respect to marijuana.
The federal government is announcing its hands are off pot. They're essentially declaring defeat in this aspect of the "drug war." This is pretty, pretty historic. Cool stuff.