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    The Feds Aren't What Legal Weed Needs To Worry About

    Written by

    Michael Byrne


    I can't really begrudge anyone for feeling pretty good about yesterday's Obama administration announcement that it wouldn't challenge Colorado and Washington's new marijuana legalization laws. Those state laws exist to counteract very stupid and harmful federal laws prohibiting the use of a relatively harmless substance to, you know, feel better. If the head enforcer of those federal laws, Attorney General Eric Holder, says it's cool, then maybe it really will be cool. Maybe. It still depends on how hard the feds want to go after other aspects of marijuana legalization, like enforcing age regulations and preventing interstate trafficking. These are things that could still be handled by the feds in such a way as to make life difficult for weed users. 

    And then there's the possibility of someone suing the federal government for not enforcing its own laws. This is a thing that happens. All it takes is for the federal government's hands-off policy to affect someone in some significant and demonstratable way. Once that happens, whoosh, the feds will be forced to act. Though, by the time that lawsuit got anywhere, Obama might be out of office with a Mormon or something set to take his place. Yesterday's announcement was about a policy decision, not a change in the laws of the U.S. The next president could just as easily decide to reverse policy. 

    But we might not have to worry about those things because there's another move backwards happening right now in Colorado: the steady rebanning of weed at the local level. Right now, two dozen cities have moved to ban retail weed, including the state's second biggest, Colorado Springs. Meanwhile, the county next to mine, La Plata County, just voted to ban retail weed for at least the next year and a half, no matter that said county's residents voted for retail weed a year ago with nearly two-thirds supporting. I expect a good number more cities and counties will follow suit before the state's regulatory scheme is in place next year. Worth mentioning is that you can still grow your own in these places, but that's no substitute for open commerce.