The Obama Administration has decided not to go after states with marijuana-friendly laws.
The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it won’t sue states like Alaska that allow medical marijuana. Not only that, it won’t sue Colorado or Washington for legalizing recreational use of the drug, something that Alaska might do next year.
That’s welcome news to Tim Hinterberger, who is sponsoring the ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
“I think it’s something that will reduce one of the arguments against an initiative like ours. People have said, well, it doesn’t matter what we do to change state law because the federal law would still supersede it. If they’re thinking of how they’re going to implement federal law differently, that will make a difference to us.”
Even though the Justice Department says it won’t stop legalization efforts, it still plans on monitoring states to make sure they’re staying in line with the administration’s enforcement priorities. While it will defer to states on things like sale and possession of the drugs, it wants federal prosecutors to target distribution to minors, cartel activity, drug-related violence, and underground trafficking. Hinterberger thinks the initiative language complies with those objectives.
“The point is if our initiative succeeds and is put into law, then that will eliminate underground trafficking because there will be no reason for it.”
Right now, the marijuana initiative is still in the signature gathering stage. The group behind it has collected over 15,000 names since their application was certified in June. While they have a full year to break the 30,000-mark, Hinterberger says they actually want to collect 45,000 signatures by December 1. That would give them a buffer against disqualified names and more time to focus on campaigning.
If the initiative meets all of the legal requirements, it will appear on the primary ballot next August.