November 11, 2012

IF SO, HE SHOULD STOP ENFORCING FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAW EVERYWHERE: Will Obama Let Washington And Colorado Keep Their Legal Pot?

While our president may be famous for saying he inhaled as a teenager (“because that was the point”) marijuana is still very much banned under federal law. It’s designated as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, just like other oh-so-not-legal drugs as LSD and heroin. After essentially promising to defer to state law on medical marijuana early in the Obama administration, the Justice Department has, by some accounts, lowered the boom. According to Americans for Safe Access, the Drug Enforcement Administration has raided at least 200 cannabis dispensaries since 2009 and prosecutors have brought more than 60 indictments against medical marijuana providers.

“There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “He’s gone from first to worst.” . . .

The hope is that, if Washington and Colorado set up smart laws with well defined bounds, federal prosecutors will decide to leave legal recreational marijuana alone, just like they mostly have with medical marijuana. Will that theory hold up? We’ll find out in the coming year or so, as state regulators figure out their game plan. But the good news for pot fans is this: In 2010 Attorney General Eric Holder officially opposed California’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. This time around, he was silent.

Then again, it also happened to be a presidential election year, and Colorado was a swing state. Of course Obama wasn’t going to intervene. Now that he’s been reelected, and two states want to adopt drug laws more liberal than the Netherlands, the president might not be so mellow. But Colorado and Washington can hope.

That whole “hope” thing hasn’t really worked out.