“This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or goldfish too quickly,” said Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper just after last November’s election, in which the states of both Colorado and Washington voted to legalize recreational pot. Both states’ laws will allow state-licensed stores to sell to adults aged 21 and older, who can possess small quantities of marijuana for mostly non-public use — the big glaring problem, of course, being the marijuana is still a federal offense, creating quite the sticky wicket for how the Obama administration is going to play their enforcement on this one.
So how’s that “complicated process” going? Well, it’s going, reports BuzzFeed, but slowly. Gov. Hickenlooper says that he’s currently working with Obama’s DOJ to hammer out the kinks of just what the legal framework would look, options including:
Hickenlooper said Holder was in fact open to finding a federal framework under which Colorado could maintain the newly passed state law.
“They’re looking at how we can adjust something in the rule-making — is there something in the regulatory framework that we can accommodate the will of these voters, and can we do it in such a way that doesn’t endanger or put undue pressures on our neighboring states or other states?” …
“They have an open door to discuss it and try to work through this,” he added of Holder’s team at the Justice Department. “There’s more nuance to the law than just the black and white.” One legal option, said Hickenlooper, would be to “go back to Congress and somehow change the controlled substance laws — they’re open to all of that.”
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has held similar meetings with Holder about his own state’s marijuana law. “We’re both in the same boat,” said Hickenlooper.
So, still a ways to go, and I wonder if even the Obama administration has really decided exactly where they want to take this yet, but I’m curious to see how it all plays out; presumably, the final rules and regulations will get ironed out before election 2016 rolls around. Depending on how things are going in Colorado and Washington, I’m wondering how much that will give license to more conservatives to at least sign on to the federalism argument in terms of pot legalization — a view that could manage to neither scare away the youths nor alienate their elders.