It was the call Governor Jay Inslee has been waiting for since the beginning of the year. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder giving Washington – and Colorado – the green light to proceed with marijuana legalization. But the feds reserve the right to intervene if they see problems.
Not that the states were in a holding pattern. But Inslee clearly appreciated finally getting clear guidance from the other Washington. Here he was at a hastily called news conference at the Capitol.
“What I’m hearing from the federal government is that they believe there’s a reason to trust the states of Colorado and Washington," Inslee said. "But we need to show it on the ground. We need to show it in the real world.”
Inslee vows tight regulations and strict enforcement, but also acknowledges no system will be “foolproof.”
In a statement, the Department of Justice said if there are problems – like leakage to other states or kids getting their hands on legal pot – then “federal prosecutors will act aggressively.” The Department of Justice also still reserves the right to sue the states at a later date.
To avoid problems, Inslee says it’s vital Washington address what is now an unregulated medical marijuana market.
The ACLU’s Alison Holcomb agrees. She led the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana. “We have a new regulatory system in place and we should be able to bring medical marijuana into line with our goals of keeping marijuana under control.”
In recent years, there have been high profile federal raids on medical marijuana operations on both sides of the Cascades.
Another potential problem area is how legal marijuana businesses can bank their money. Governor Inslee says Attorney General Holder expressed a willingness to work with the states on a solution that doesn’t “run afoul of federal law.”
On the Web:
Marijuana enforcement policy update - US Department of Justice
Gov. Inslee's full response - Office if the Governor