Poll: Feds Should Leave Pot-Legalization States Alone

Thursday, 06 Dec 2012 02:56 PM

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Americans are split on whether to legalize marijuana, but two-thirds in a new poll say the federal government should not interfered when any state goes ahead.

Washington State and Colorado are preparing to change course on marijuana laws after voters legalized possession of the drug but are having to tread carefully because it still remains illegal under federal law.

The USA Today/Gallup poll showed 64 percent believe the federal government should not enforce anti-pot laws in states that have voted to legalize the drug. Only 34 percent said federal laws should be enforced regardless of what citizens of a state have voted for.

"There has been nothing that I have seen or heard from the Department of Justice that says 'Look we're not going to continue to enforce federal law,'" Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama's top drug adviser, said last week in an interview. "And we're going to continue to take a hard look at those people who are involved in making money on essentially a violation of federal law."

At the beginning of December, states began to dismiss minor marijuana-related court cases and are working to craft rules on the growing, selling and buying of pot, according to the Washington Post. They have asked, however, for guidance on what the federal government will do about it.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has asked Attorney General Eric Holder whether he will hold state employees liable once they are charged with regulating the production and sale of marijuana.

“We need to know whether the federal government will take legal action to block the implementation of Amendment 64, or whether it will seek to prosecute grow-and-retail operations,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to Holder. “We find no clear guidance on these issues in memoranda or statements previously issued by the DOJ.”

The Justice Department, to this point, has said only that the federal Controlled Substances Act “remains unchanged.” Currently, marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance and considered to be on the same level as illicit drugs such as heroin and ecstasy.

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