The Justice Department announced today that it has made its decision regarding marijuana in states that have legalized it. Even though marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the Justice Department will allow individuals in Washington and Colorado to use, grow it with a license, and even buy marijuana, so long as it is kept away from kids, federal property, and the black market. This is a huge win for Washington's newly emerging legalized marijuana market.
The Justice Department's green light gives these states the right to license growers and sellers without the fear of federal punishment, prison time, and asset seizure. It also encourages other states that are seeking to legalize marijuana in the upcoming years, such as Alaska who is already slated to vote on it next year.
This new marijuana policy is being referred to as a "trust but verify" approach between the federal government and the states that legalized marijuana. The government expects the states and local authorities to implement strong and effective regulations regarding marijuana use. It also expects them to apprehend those individuals who break these regulations or who abuse them. If states do not handle these individuals sufficiently or if a black market emerges that becomes dangerous, the federal government may seek to challenge the regulatory structure.
The federal government's main priorities involve preventing the distribution to minors and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of the legal states to illegal states. They are also going to be vigilant in preventing authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs. In addition, they are also concerned with drugged driving and with preventing marijuana growth and possession on public land or federal property.