In a new Colorado Marijuana law directive, the Department of Justice sent out a memo on Thursday confirming the Obama administration’s position. The memo essentially said that the administration would not interfere with the state’s legislation or shut down recreational marijuana stores.
The Department went one step further and also issued new guidelines to all US Attorneys recommending that they focus solely on prosecuting major cases. The guidelines set out eight areas for enforcement including the prevention of distribution of marijuana to minors and preventing use of marijuana on federal premises.
The guidance spoke about the need to preserve public safety and other law enforcement interests:
“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 enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.”
An advocate of the new Colorado marijuana law is Mason Tvert, who welcomed the new guidelines saying: “It’s a major and historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition. It sends a clear signal that states are free to determine their own policies when it comes to marijuana.”
It should be noted that if the state of Colorado, or Washington, which received the same directives from the DOJ, fall short of their responsibilities to protect minors and the general public from any potential health risks, the state laws could be blocked.
The new Colorado marijuana law is a step in the right direction for those who support the legalization of marijuana. It remains to be seen how the new legislation will pan out and if it will be as successful as the Justice Department hope.