U.S. government won't seek to stop Washington state from implementing marijuana initiative

On Thursday, Aug. 29, Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado that the Department of Justice would allow implementation of these states’ ballot measures that legalized the adult use of small amounts of marijuana.

King County Executive Dow Constantine issued the following statement on today’s announcement by the Justice Department that the United States government will not seek to stop Washington from implementing Initiative 502:

“I am proud of Washington State for leading the way on national policy. We will regulate the production and sale of adult use marijuana in a way that reduces harm, protects youth, and profits legitimate, law-abiding, tax-paying businesses rather than criminals. Prohibition has clearly failed and, thanks to this decision by the federal government, we can now develop policies that respect the will of the people and work better for our communities.”

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene said in a press release that today’s announcement is good news for Washington residents, who overwhelmingly voted to approve I-502 last November.

She added: "I am pleased that Attorney General Holder has determined the Justice Department’s enforcement policy in response to the passage of I-502 and that implementation can now move forward.

The guidance from the Department of Justice makes clear that federal resources should not be used to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made it legal. I strongly believe that state laws like I-502 should be respected, and in June, I joined with several of my Washington state colleagues in writing to Attorney General Holder to request that the Department of Justice assure our citizens that they will not be penalized by the federal government for activities considered legal under state law."

The Washington State Liquor Control Board thanked the Obama Administration, particularly Holder and the Dept. of Justice for its guidance today, read a statement, which added:

"We would also like to thank Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson for their leadership and efforts on this issue these past nine months. As Gov. Inslee stated today, the Department of Justice today helped lay a path forward for Washington and Colorado to implement its systems of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana."

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