How Will Feds React if Washington Voters Pass I-502?
Washington voters will go to the polls In November to vote on a measure that would legalize and regulate marijuana for adults – I-502. If it passes, how will the federal government react?
Some say it will depend on who is elected President, but will it? Don’t President Obama and Mitt Romney seem to have similar views about medical marijuana being illegal under federal law?
What if Obama wins, which looks likely as of now? Would the Obama administration pick a legal fight over states' rights to try to block Initiative 502? Would federal prosecutors charge marijuana growers and retailers, even if they are authorized by state law?
Or would — as some opponents and supporters predict — federal authorities denounce the law but largely leave Washington alone? What would President Obama have to gain from continuing his crackdown into a second term, and even expanding it?
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, an I-502 supporter who talks often with federal authorities, thinks the Justice Department would back off after "a long, intense, fairly high-level conversation" with campaign and state officials.
"In the end, I think the feds will go with the will of the voters," said Holmes.
I-502 itself would legalize one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older, and creates a seed-to-store, closed, state-regulated monopoly estimated to raise more than $560 million in new taxes. It would also create a new, non-science based DUI standard for driving under the influence of marijuana that some advocates fear is simply another way to criminalize marijuana use.
According to a state fiscal analysis, I-502 would result in as many state pot stores — 328 — as there are state liquor stores, with 363,000 customers consuming 85 metric tons of pot, all of which would have to be grown in Washington state. An economic boon to say the least.
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