In a somewhat unexpected twist in the belabored plot of the “War on Drugs” saga, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice will allow states which have legalized marijuana use to go ahead with their state-wide legalization of the herb.
Commenting on this historic decision, a Justice Department official explained that Holder told the news to the governors of these respective states in a joint phone call early this afternoon. He said that the Department of Justice would take a “trust but verify approach” to the laws of each respective legalizing state.
While this is good news for those who oppose government prohibition of recreational, natural substances, the Department of Justice will still retain the “right” to file a lawsuit against the states at a later date if they change their mind. In other words, the legalization of the plant is still illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. The Department of Justice decision does not overturn the Controlled Substances Act, it only says that they will not enforce it. That means no DEA agents busting shops that sell the plant in Washington and Colorado, the way that they have with medical marijuana dispensaries in California.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a three-and-a-half page memo which said the following:
“The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.”
The memo was distributed to U.S. attorneys across the country. This historic decision by the Department of Justice paves the way for the a push for similar legislation in other states that might otherwise have been hesitant due to the Federal prohibition of the plant.
(Article by Ari Shimon; photo from CBS News)