It has been almost four months since voters in Colorado and Washington State decided to legalize marijuana for adults and there has still been no indication how the federal government will respond, but it is possible we won’t wait much longer. At the National Association of Attorneys General annual conference, US Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department was reviewing the issue and will make a decision soon.
One of the few question Holder took at the meeting was from Colorado’s AG John Suthers (R) who asked, “when are Colorado and Washington going to hear on the federal governments position on marijuana legalization.”
Holder indicated the federal government is still reviewing the initiatives but the states will hear soon. “We are, I think, in the last states of that review and are trying to make the determination as to what the policy ramifications are going to be, what our international ramifications are,” he said. Holder concluded by saying the people in the states deserve an answer and they will have one “relatively soon.”
The Obama administration has incredibly wide latitude when it comes to dealing with this particular conflict between state and federal law. The administration can choose anything from an aggressive crackdown, selective harassment of only larger business, basically leaving the states alone, or even unilaterally “downscheduling” marijuana under federal law.