During a conference call with state governors today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US Department of Justice would allow the marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington to go into effect.
Holder announced that the Department of Justice will take a “trust but verify approach” to the new marijuana laws, but did reserve the right to file a preemption lawsuit at a later date if necessary.
In a three page memo issued by Deputy Attorney General Cole, the DOJ clarified they will still retain the right to prosecute individuals who engage in the following circumstances:
-the distribution of marijuana to minors;
-revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
-the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
-state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
-violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
-preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
“This is a historic step forward for our country,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “If the Department of Justice stays true to their word, we will see these state experiments with marijuana move forward unhindered by federal law enforcement. Our country was founded on the principles of federalism and it is in the best interests of the country for them to move forward with their plans to regulate marijuana for adults. NORML is pleased that the federal government has stated their intent to allow Colorado and Washington to move forward with implementing their laws and hope this signals a larger shift in how the federal government addresses states that wish to reform their marijuana laws and move away from the failed, costly policy that is prohibition.”
Much more on this story as it develops.
UPDATE: You can view the official DOJ memo here.