Substance Abuse

Federal Government Is Likely to Go After Marijuana Growers and Retailers Instead of the Users

Federal authorities are unlikely to target marijuana users in Washington and Colorado in responding to the new legalization measure; instead, they’d go after the retailers, growers, or the states, according to The Christian Science Monitor report.

The legalization measures approved last week  in Washington and Colorado allow the recreational use of marijuana among people age 21 and older. Under the Colorado’s new law, a person is allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use in his or her home, but prohibits their sale.

“Federal law is federal law; it’s pretty black and white,” says Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Obama administration. “How it’s enforced, given resource constraints, is that small-scale users will likely not be targeted. But you’re going to see efforts by the Justice Department against large commercial grows or retail sales or states making money off the new laws.”

However, of more interest to the federal government is that both states need to establish a system to license, regulate, and tax commercial retailers expected to sell the drug. The system would be similar to what currently exists for the sales of alcohol and tobacco. That said, it is expected that lawmakers will need more time to create a regulatory system that would establish how and where the drug can be sold.

According to Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance — an advocacy group based in New York City that helped campaign for the measures in Colorado and Washington, the federal government don’t have to change or do anything at this point. The time could be used for “consultation and deliberation for how to best proceed and for the states to persuade the federal government to give this time to develop.”

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