The U.S. Justice Department says it will to prosecute marijuana laws in California aggressively even if state voters approve an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to legalize the drug, the New York Times reports. Attorney General Eric Holder's position, disclosed in a letter to nine former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration, made explicit that legalizing marijuana for recreational use would bring a whole new level of scrutiny from Washington.
Despite opposition from dozens of news editorial boards, candidates for office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other public officials, Proposition 19 appears to have at least a decent chance of winning, so far drawing considerable support in polls from a coalition of Democrats, independents, younger voters, and men as Election Day nears. Such a result, says the Times, could cement a cultural shift in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and where the drug has been celebrated in popular culture since the 1960s.