The Justice Department And State Pot Laws

The Justice Department won’t challenge Washington State and Colorado’s very liberal pot laws.  So, what’s coming with marijuana?

A man pulls out a bag of marijuana to fill a pipe at the first day of Hempfest, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Seattle. (AP)

A man pulls out a bag of marijuana to fill a pipe at the first day of Hempfest, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Seattle. (AP)

Last year, voters in Colorado and Washington State went to the polls in big numbers to vote to fully legalize recreational use of marijuana.  First states ever to do that.  And then they waited.

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, right up there with heroin.  What would the federal government say, do?

Last week they got their answer.  The Department of Justice has ruled OK – go ahead.  Have your recreational marijuana.  With some caveats.  Some requirements.  A green light.

This hour, On Point:  The federal OK on state-level pot legalization, and what happens now.

– Tom Ashbrook


John Ingold, reporter for The Denver Post, covering the court system and marijuana. (@john_ingold)

Barbara Brohl, co-chair of Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force, created by Governor Hickenlooper to work out the policy, legal and procedural issues around Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

Mark Kleiman, professor of policy studies and director of the Drug Policy Analysis Center at UCLA. (@markarkleiman)

Andrew Boyens, owner of Natural Remedies, a medical marijuana dispensary in Denver making the shift to also serve the coming recreational market in Colorado.

From Tom’s Reading List

Bloomberg: U.S. Won’t Sue to Block State Marijuana Legalization — “The U.S. won’t challenge laws in Colorado and Washington that legalized the recreational use of marijuana and will focus federal prosecutions on ties to organized crime, distribution to minors and transportation across state lines, the Justice Department said.”

The Denver Post: More Colorado pot is flowing to neighboring states, officials say — “Marijuana is flowing into the black market and out of Colorado in greater quantities than ever before, law enforcement officials say. It’s going by car and by bus. It’s being packed up and shipped through the mail. It’s being found, in small amounts and large bundles, as far away as Illinois, New York and Florida.”

Forbes: New DOJ Marijuana Policy Won’t Fly With IRS — “Given the documented medical use of marijuana and state laws, you might think the feds would respect state law and states’ rights. You might also assume that the sizable federal and state taxes to be collected from the industry would be a prize. Oddly enough, though, the tax law discriminates so badly against the industry that it has had to virtually go underground.”

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