Marijuana Legalization-Will It Stick?

On November 6th, Colorado and Washington became the first US states to pass ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but marijuana remains listed as a Schedule I substance in the Controlled Substance Act, making it illegal on a federal level. The US also has signed several international treaties that obligate it to keep marijuana illegal. So, what are the feds intentions regarding recreational marijuana state legalization?

They have several options. Many are waiting for the US Attorney General Eric Holder’s office to make a statement about the USAG’s intentions, but its options include looking the other way, arresting citizens of these states who violate the federal prohibition, or filing suit against Colorado and Washington to shut down marijuana commerce.

Legal experts such as University of Denver professor and marijuana law expert Sam Kamin underscore that the feds, though it would be within their authority, are unlikely to start arresting individual citizens for marijuana possession, but completely looking the other way isn’t likely either. When it comes to the establish of a large scale retail system for the sell of marijuana, Kamin suggests that the feds are likely to be a bit squeamish about allowing potentially thousands of pot shops to sell to any adult.

Kamin says, “The federal government has been mildly tolerant of medical marijuana, but I can’t imagine them saying, ‘Go ahead and sell ounces of marijuana to anyone who walks in the door.’ I would be surprised if they permit us to fully implement Amendment 64 without a fight.” He adds, “They might say, ‘Look, we’ll pretend you didn’t pass Amendment 64. We’ll let you keep your medical, because we believe there are people sincerely buying and selling marijuana as medical. But if we see you authorizing retail stores [for recreational use], we’re going to come in and shut everything down.”

Kamin’s ultimate guesses are that if Colorado goes forward with full implementation, the feds will either arrest retailers or sue.

See this article and this one for more information.

December 18, 2016