“Uncharted Waters” As States Wait for Federal Views on Pot Legalization


The approval of ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana in Washington state and Colorado left officials searching for guidance from the federal government on Wednesday, with major questions over whether the states could become the first in the nation to permit recreational use of the drug. The Justice Department said it was reviewing the initiatives but would not comment further on how it would respond, reports the Washington Post. In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, the Justice Department was muted, as former Drug Enforcement Administration officials called on Attorney General Eric Holder to oppose them.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said that “federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.” Hickenlooper will speak to Holder today or tomorrow. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire also indicated that she is uncertain about whether there will be a showdown with the federal government. “We are entering uncharted waters and many questions lie ahead as we work to implement this law,” she said. “Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, we are unsure how the federal government will proceed.”

For more, see The Crime Report’s survey of state criminal justice votes.

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