While marijuana is legal for adults in Washington State and will soon be for adults in Colorado under state law, it is still technically illegal under federal law. The federal government could theoretically prosecute newly licensed marijuana retailers, growers, and even regular users in both states. When deciding how to respond the Obama administration should note that a majority of America would oppose federal involvement.
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 51 percent of Americans think that adults who are following their new state laws should be left alone by the federal government. Only 3o percent think the federal government should ignore the new laws and continue enforcing federal marijuana laws as they do in all other states.
This is only the most recent poll since the passage of the two marijuana legalization ballot initiatives which found most Americans want the federal government to leave these states alone. A survey by Public Policy Polling similarly found that 47 percent of Americans voters want President Obama to allow the states to implement their new legalization laws, while just 33 percent want him to use federal resources to try to stop the laws.
In a more general sense the American people overwhelmingly think marijuana policy should be set at the state instead of at the federal level. According to a CBS News poll, 59 percent think marijuana’s legal status should be decided by the individual states and only 34 percent think it should be the job of the federal government.
If the Obama administration wants to respect not only the decision of the voters in Colorado and Washington State but also the will of the electorate nationally, they should take a hands-off approach. As of now, the administration still hasn’t given any real indication of how they plan to proceed.
Photo by marijuana2007b under Creative Commons license.