Will the Obama administration let Washington state and Colorado go their own way on marijuana legalization, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law? That’s what former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper advocates. Stamper tells NPR he doesn’t think federal agents have enough resources to swoop into Washington and Colorado to crack down on marijuana offenses. “What we’re all hoping for, what we’re essentially lobbying for, is for the federal government to view these two states as laboratories, as incubators of new ideas and better ideas for dealing with the country’s challenge of regulating marijuana,” he says.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous. “Our voters want marijuana to be regulated, like alcohol,” Hickenlooper says. John Walters, the drug czar for President George W. Bush, asked Obama and the Justice Department to speak out against the marijuana ballot initiatives before the election, to no avail. “I know there will be young people who get harmed by this — by the confusion, by the failure to take actions we could take that we know we need to take from past experience,” Walters says.