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Justice Official: Federal Government Won’t Legalize Marijuana Even if States Do


A Justice Department official says the federal government will not change its position on the legalization of marijuana, even if voters in Colorado, Washington state or Oregon approve measures to legalize recreational use of the drug.

On November 6, voters in the three states will decide whether to legalize and tax marijuana sales. Passage of any of the state measures could lead to a confrontation with the federal government, which views marijuana as an illegal narcotic, Reuters reports.

“We’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said during an interview with the CBS News show “60 Minutes.” His comments were not aired on the show, but were posted on the website of the local CBS affiliate in Denver.

The article notes that until now, the Obama administration has been relatively silent about the state measures, leading to questions about whether the federal government would interfere with states’ taxation and regulation of marijuana.

Attorney General Eric Holder opposed a 2010 California proposal that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. He said the federal government would vigorously enforce drug laws against people who used marijuana recreationally, even if permitted by state law. The proposal was rejected by voters, and some credit Holder’s statement with being partly responsible for the outcome.

In September, nine former administrators of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wrote a letter to Holder, urging him to oppose the three state measures. The letter stated that not opposing the measures would indicate acceptance. The former DEA officials said if the measures in Colorado, Washington and Oregon are passed, they will pose a direct conflict with federal law.

9 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Dustin
    Dustin / February 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Kim, marijuana is not a gateway drug at all. People often think this, do you want to know why? Because people who smoke weed can’t go to the store and buy weed. They have to go through a person who sells it to make money. Often the person selling it has other drugs available. Weed will not give you the mindset to desire drugs. It will just make them more avaiable to get. It will always be that persons choice wheather he/she wants them. And this is off person experience. Have a nice day.

  2. Dwayne / December 21, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Government has no power without the people
    The people vote and the government will abide or else

  3. Dwayne / November 29, 2012 at 6:21 am

    My body my choice I need not a government to decide what is good for me when they can’t
    decide what is good for this country.

  4. Avatar of RC
    RC / October 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    No it’s not! I’ve been a social user for 35 years (not bragging)and I have never once thought or attempted to use or try anything else. I don’t have an addictive nature and I can go for long periods of time without using it. The “Gateway” to other drugs is almost opened up by pressure from peers or their social suroundings. If that’s your opinion, then alcohol is the path to the “Gateway”.

  5. Bill Crane / October 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Carl: Some more recent drug laws are based on science – but not marijuana laws which were conceived and developed in the 1930s. The marijuana laws are based on outright falsehoods and bigotry and the enforcement of the marijuana laws (and most others) are based on misconceptions and bigotry. COngress does not seem to be able to do anything to change these laws – actually it doesn’t seem to be able to do anything these days.

  6. Carl Olsen / October 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I can’t believe you’re even having this discussion. Congress writes the law, not the current administration. The drug laws are supposedly based on science, not political whim. Is the U.S. Department of Justice faithfully executing the law, or making it?

  7. Joe / October 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Kim, for decades, some folks have claimed that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that inevitably leads to use of harder substances like heroin and cocaine — despite the fact that every objective study ever done on the gateway theory has determined that it’s an absolute falsity.

    Last week, researchers at the University of New Hampshire released yet another study discrediting the gateway theory. Their findings, based on survey data from more than 1,200 students in Florida public schools, showed that a person’s likelihood to use harder drugs has more to do with social and environmental factors than whether or not they’ve ever tried marijuana.

    “There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot,” lead researcher Dr. Karen Van Gundy, associate professor of sociology at UNH, told CBS News. “But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed – not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade.”

    These findings echo virtually every other previous study done on the topic. In 2008, for example, the RAND Corporation found that “[t]he gateway theory has little evidence to support it, despite copious research,” and the federal government’s own Institute of Medicine, in a report commissioned by the drug czar’s office, has declared that “[t]here is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone [to other drugs] on the basis of its particular physiological effect.”

  8. Avatar of Carl
    Carl / October 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Humanities attempts at prohibition of any substance or action have proven fool hearty at best. Focus should be placed on any individual that over values anything, be it drugs, gambling, food. Obesity drains far more from our society than all drugs combined, should we start arresting? When someone you love becomes addicted to anything, IT WAS NOT THE THING THAT LET YOU DOWN! The person you love chose whatever thing it is OVER YOU! They need help, other people who like that thing don’t abandon their loved ones for it, they don’t need to have you deciding what their America is.

  9. kim / October 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    pot is a huge gateway drug. its so sad it should only be given to cancer patients but it always gets into the wrong hands. doctors should be the only ones to give it out.

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