EVER since November 2012, when Colorado and Washington state became the first jurisdictions in the world to legalise marijuana for recreational use, the big question has been how the federal government would respond. The drug remained illegal under federal law; would Barack Obama’s administration tolerate the states’ deviation?
History provided smokers with little solace: since the passage in 1970 of the Controlled Substances Act, the foundation of federal drug policy, most presidents have prosecuted the war on drugs with unrestrained vigour. Hopes that Mr Obama, a member in good standing of his high school’s “choom gang”, might take a more relaxed approach were soon dashed; threats, raids and asset forfeitures directed against medical-marijuana dispensaries (and sometimes their landlords) have been a running theme of his presidency.
But change is afoot. On August 29th Eric Holder, the attorney-general, told the governors of Colorado and Washington that the department of justice would not seek to block their experiments—at least for now. His deputy, James Cole, issued a memo to the 93 US attorneys, who enforce...Continue reading