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Bessent: Feds shouldn't block legal pot in Washington, Colorado
Now that voters in two states — Colorado and Washington— have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, I have two words of advice for federal drug officials: Stand down.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law and federal law supersedes state law. So there’s nothing really to stop federal law enforcement officers from arresting, prosecuting and locking up people who sell or possess marijuana in those states. Nothing, that is, except respect for majority rule, states rights and common sense, which ought to be enough.
The U.S. Justice Department doesn’t see it that way. “The Department’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. We are reviewing the ballot initiatives and have no additional comment at this time,” said spokeswoman Nanda Chitre.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama should reconsider as they set the policy and priorities for federal law enforcement in this changed environment.
If interstate traffickers set up shop in Colorado or Washington, putting them out of business is a legitimate job for federal drug cops. But there’s no upside for anyone if the feds go after individuals who sell or possess marijuana in ways now legal in the state where they live.
This should be one of those rare instances where liberals and conservatives can actually agree. Liberals favor personal freedom. Conservatives support states rights.
Those are broad generalizations of course, but each impulse should lead to the same conclusion.
There are better uses for strained federal resources than pursuing a war on marijuna against the wishes of the majority of voters in Colorado and Washington who have spoken very clearly on the matter.