Justice Department Won’t Challenge Colorado, Washington Pot Laws

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Department Reserves Right to Challenge Laws Later if States Don’t Implement Strict Regulations, Official Says.

The Justice Department has decided not to challenge state laws in Colorado and Washington that allow recreational marijuana use, a department official said Thursday.

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke in a joint phone call Thursday with governors of both states to inform them of the decision, the official said.

Mr. Holder emphasized that marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act and said the department reserved the right to challenge the states’ laws later if U.S. officials find that the states don’t put appropriate regulatory controls in place to govern marijuana use and distribution, the official said.

The official said Mr. Holder outlined to the governors eight priority areas in which the Justice Department would focus its federal marijuana enforcement efforts, including marijuana distribution to minors, marijuana diversion to other states and the use of state-authorized marijuana as a cover for drug trafficking or other illegal activity.

The Justice Department outlined these priorities—to be followed by U.S. enforcers in all states—in a memo sent Thursday to federal prosecutors nationwide, the official said.

Voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot in November but state officials, awaiting reaction from the Justice Department, have faced uncertainty on how to set rules for its use.

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