As many people are aware, Colorado and Washington recently passed laws legalizing marijuana to some extent. In the past, when California passed laws legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries, the federal government seemingly ignored the state’s wishes and raided these medical marijuana dispensaries that were legal under state law. For some reason, the federal government was arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning people for marijuana related conduct that was perfectly legal under the state’s laws.
When Colorado and Washington passed the marijuana legalization laws, the states were concerned that the Obama administration would continue to thwart the wishes of those states by making marijuana arrests under federal law. At first, the Obama administration was vague about how the federal government would react to the states’ marijuana laws.
Colorado and Washington received support from some seemingly unlikely allies asking the federal government not to bother with states that have legalized marijuana. Former law enforcement officials, DEA agents, criminal prosecutors and judges signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the federal government to leave Washington and Colorado alone. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. By all accounts, the war on drugs has been an unmitigated disaster of unprecedented proportions. It is little more than a tool for politicians who take every opportunity to increase the size of government and seize on the fears of the public. In addition to the incredible cost of the program with no discernible results, it also puts law enforcement officials in dangerous situations for no legitimate reason. As everyone knows, making marijuana illegal creates a strong market for marijuana that is run by dangerous drug cartels. This creates an unnecessary danger for police and everyone else.
It is early, but it seems like the Obama administration may be listening. After initially issuing ambiguous statements about the federal government’s intentions with the state marijuana laws, the Obama administration seems to be saying that they have more important things to do than worry about marijuana possession. That, of course, is the obvious understatement of the century, but also a position that has taken a long time to materialize.