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.”