As our readers probably know, last fall’s election ushered in the passage of the nation’s first laws permitting the use of recreational marijuana, in both Washington and California. Since the passage of those laws, there has been some questions as to how the federal government will react. After all, marijuana use-for any purpose, even medical-is still illegal at the federal level.
Although President Obama has made comments to the effect that he will not expend resources to prosecute law-abiding marijuana users, there are others that are voicing opposition to the laws. Eight former U.S. drug chiefs warned the federal government on Tuesday that time is running short to nullify the new laws. In addition, the United Nations has urged challenges to the measures, saying they violate international treaties.
The former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs have criticized the Obama administration for moving too slowly to file a lawsuit to force Washington and Colorado to rescind their new laws. Failure to pursue immediate legal action, they say, will encourage other states to legalize marijuana, creating a “domino effect.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently told a meeting of state attorneys general that he is reviewing the laws but that he is nearly through. Holder could decide to sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, or not.
Advocates, however, have welcomed the new laws, arguing that criminalizing the drug leads to serious, unintended social problems.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the federal government responds to the controversial new laws.
Source: Stamfordadvocate.com, “Ex-DEA heads, UN panel urge US to nullify pot laws,” Michael Tarma, March 5, 2013