Tag Archives: Washington Initiative 502

On eve of pot legalization, a warning from the feds

Pot, as you probably know, becomes legal to possess in Washington as of tomorrow. Initiative 502, passed by voters last month, allows adults 21 and older to have up to an ounce starting Dec. 6. (Don’t ask how one goes about getting marijuana, which is still illegal to sell, or distribute, or — unless you’re authorized under the state’s medical marijuana law — grow).

It’s the first state ever to do so — some are calling it “cannabiotic armistice day” — as Colorado’s legalization law, also passed this November, does not take effect until January. Later, the initiative calls for a system of growers, brokers and retail stores to sell pot.

But the looming cloud of uncertainty as to what the federal government, which still regards weed as a dangerous, unhealthy narcotic — will do in the wake of 502′s passage was lifted ever so slightly with a news release Wednesday. Here it is in its entirety. I’ll leave it to you to interpret it:

“The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington State.   The Department’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.  Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.  In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance.  Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 6th in Washington State, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.”