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Federal Government Unlikely to Target Marijuana Users in Washington and Colorado

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Experts say the federal government is unlikely to target individual marijuana users, as it responds to new laws in Colorado and Washington state that legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Instead, the government is expected to focus on commercial growers and retailers, or the states themselves, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

The state measures allow personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for anyone at least 21 years old. Marijuana is considered illegal under federal law. The Justice Department has not said what action it may take against either state.

“Federal law is federal law; it’s pretty black and white,” Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama Administration, told the newspaper. “How it’s enforced, given resource constraints, is that small-scale users will likely not be targeted.” He predicted the Justice Department would take action against large commercial growers or retailers, or states making money from the new laws.

The laws in both states require a system to license, regulate and tax commercial marijuana retailers. The system would be similar to those used for alcohol and tobacco. Establishing it may take more than a year, the article notes.

“There’s no reason for the Feds to do anything instantly,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group that helped campaign for the new laws. “There is time right now for consultation and deliberation for how to best proceed and for the states to persuade the federal government to give this time to develop.”

3 Responses to this article

  1. Karen / November 17, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I agree.
    We have made progress over the past several decades in reducing risky alcohol use and tobacco smoking. As a result, traffic fatalities due to drunk driving and costs associated with medical complications from smoking tobacco have been reduced.
    The costs to our society of legalizing another addicting drug outweigh any recreational benefits.
    There are plenty of other ways to enjoy a good time that don’t increase risk of death to other drivers or increase the healthcare costs for all of us from another person’s decision to smoke.

  2. Lisa / November 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    How many lives have been negatively impacted by alcohol and tobacco? Lives lost, health care costs, lost production… Do we really need to legalize another drug? The risks outweigh any perceived benefits. Let’s make the right decision for everyone involved.

  3. Dwayne / November 14, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Federal government
    Stay out of my life
    you have been warned

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