Just days after Washington residents sparked up under the Space Needle in Seattle to celebrate the decriminalization of marijuana, Senior White House and Justice Department officials are considering plans for legal action against Colorado and Washington that could take away voter-approved initiatives.
Amidst the smoke, the Obama administration has been meeting since the election to discuss the decriminalization efforts.
Marijuana use in both states continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. One option is to sue the states on the grounds that any effort to regulate marijuana is pre-empted by federal law. Should the Justice Department prevail, it would raise the possibility of striking down the entire initiatives on the theory that voters would not have approved legalizing the drug without tight regulations and licensing similar to controls on hard alcohol.
Some law enforcement officials, alarmed at the prospect that marijuana users in both states could get used to flouting federal law openly, are said to be pushing for a stern response. But such a response would raise political complications for President Obama because marijuana legalization is popular among liberal Democrats who just turned out to re-elect him.
At this point, the Obama administration has not commented, but from the looks of it, it seems residents in these areas have already gotten used to the idea of a marijuana statehood. This is sure to cause some smoke.