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Federal Government Considers Legal Options Against State Marijuana Laws


Federal officials are weighing their options for legal action against Washington and Colorado’s new marijuana laws. Such action could undermine the laws, which legalize the recreational use of the drug.

Officials in the White House and Justice Department have been holding meetings to discuss the government’s response to the laws, according to The New York Times. Marijuana use is illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The federal government could sue the states, on the grounds that efforts to regulate the drug are pre-empted by federal law, the article notes. If the Justice Department won that case, both initiatives could be struck down.

The question of how to respond to the laws is a thorny one for President Obama, because legalization of marijuana is popular among liberal Democrats who voted for him, according to the newspaper.

Several federal officials said the issue raises complex legal and policy considerations. These include the impact of international anti-drug treaties, enforcement priorities and strategies for litigation.

Federal prosecutors could bring cases against low-level marijuana users in Washington or Colorado. They would wait for a defendant to make a motion to dismiss the case because marijuana is now legal in their state, and then obtain a court ruling that federal law trumps the state measure.

Another option is for the Justice Department to file lawsuits against both states, to prevent them from setting up systems that would regulate and tax the drug. The government also could cut off federal grants to Colorado and Washington unless their legislatures restored laws forbidding marijuana use.

5 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of karen watkins
    karen watkins / March 8, 2014 at 12:29 am

    so who in D.C. is deciding what Federal Drug laws to enforce? Is there not a lawsuit here? SO now there’s only a war on “certain” drugs? If someone is Federally indicted for say: “cocaine”…. could they in turn not file a suit against the FEDS for discrimination or something? There are FEDERAL drug laws and the funny thing is: if the guidelines don’t have the drug you are indicted for…. guess what: LOL, hahahah…. they use the equivalence of weed to get your sentence!

  2. Avatar of windinface17
    windinface17 / March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Articular 1 Sec 8 of the U.S. Constitution states as I read it that the United States Congress has power to lay and collect taxes…which shall be uniform through out the states.

    Reading further To exercise exclusive Legislation (law making) in all cases whatsoever, OVER SUCH DISTRICT {District of Columbia; D.C.} (not exceeding ten miles square). Let D.C. make its laws for the land it has. And let the States make the laws of their land.

    The Feral government does not seek your right to vote but to think for yourself. I smoke nothing. Tobacco use kills and cost america millions. American grown Marijuana is fighting the drug car tails. It keeps the money in america providing less monies to shoot up their government which Obama tried to use to take our guns away in his first term.

    The movie V for Vendetta is more realistic then you think. just my thoughts!

  3. Avatar of Gary
    Gary / March 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I just wonder if the feds do cut off federal funding for states with opposing laws, would that state and it citizens then no longer be required to pay federal taxes??

    • Chris / June 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Yes, they would. In order to exercise spending power the funds the Federal government is threatening to take away must not be so large as to be coercive (the states must have a choice as to where or not to adopt the legislation) and the funds must have a reasonable relation to the activity sought to be regulated.
      For example: states choosing not to adopt the Affordable Care Act were to loose 100% of medicaid. The supreme court found that while the funds were reasonably related to the law, the amount was so large that it was coercive.

  4. Avatar of dennis gilliland
    dennis gilliland / March 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

    It seems to me that the federal government is atemting to take away our basic right to vote. It is already well known that the president has been elected before we ever get to vote in washington so our vote does’nt count there. Now they want to punish us for using said right to vote. Why do we bother to vote if the government can reverse it whenever they want? What happened to of the people, by the people, and for the people? We are the people and we voted for legalization, end of story…..

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