In a significant switch from previous approaches, the federal government will not block attempts in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana, at least not right now, according to a U.S. Department of Justice memo.
The memo, sent to federal prosecutors, said it wouldn’t make it “a priority” to oppose laws to legalize marijuana in those two states or to shut recreational marijuana stores, the Denver Post said
. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, and both states are looking at legalizing recreational marijuana, too.
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CNN said the communication indicated
that, instead of hitting hard on pot use, the federal government would focus on “serious trafficking cases and keeping the drug away from children.”
“The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests," a copy of the memo on the Department of Justice website said
The memo said that a system meeting those guidelines would have not only “robust” procedures laid out on paper, but be “effective in practice.”
Reactions to the memo ran the gamut, from unhappy to thrilled to disbelieving. Forbes listed reactions “in decreasing order of exuberance,”
starting with Neill Franklin from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and ending with Tom Angell at Marijuana Majority.
Online, social media went into overdrive at the news, though the naysayers weren’t nearly as prominent as those happy with the news.
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