by Lee, 08/29/2013, 10:16 PM

The importance of today’s DOJ policy announcement on Washington and Colorado’s marijuana regulations is hard to measure. On one hand, much of what is now stated policy is what we already assumed the DOJ position to be as they remained silent on the topic for so long. If they were planning to sue, they’d have done it already and certainly not given Washington and Colorado to green light to start spending money implementing it.

On the other hand, as Mike Riggs pointed out here, the language about not targeting operations solely because they are large in size is a welcome departure from how US Attorney’s have operated in recent years regarding medical marijuana businesses.

What remains to be seen is whether marijuana businesses in Washington and Colorado will have access to banking services. Inslee indicated that he’d gotten assurances from Holder that the problem will be addressed, but the policy memo was silent on it.

On a larger scale, this announcement makes it very clear to other states and other countries that the U.S. government is not interested in fully backing the federal and international prohibitions on marijuana. It’s a clear signal that the option of moving away from prohibition to a smarter model is a political reality now. And the Obama Administration deserves credit for recognizing the pragmatic response, even though they needed a lot of pushing to get there (that seems to be how they operate on these issues).

Also check out Mark Kleiman’s post here with a roundup of good points.

UPDATE: Looks like the banking services issue is being addressed. That’s a very positive development.

4 Responses to “Kind of a Big Deal”

1. Carl spews:

It’s a good thing about the banking in particular. I imagine the storefronts will be cash businesses more than other stores anyway, at least initially. After all, I’d think there are more people buying marijuana who wouldn’t want a credit card record than alcohol or cigarettes, or other heavily regulated products in Washington. Still the more people can easily do things on the up and up the better things will be.

2. Lee spews:

@1
Yeah, and pot consumers tend to more skeptical than the average person of the what the government still might do, a lot of folks will pay cash for a while.

I’m starting to get more curious what will happen next summer when there are breathless, silly news reports about how people in Portland are getting weed across the river.

3. Mike spews:

Get rid of the ridiculous schedule 1 classification, which every sane person knows is complete BS.

Next get rid of the ridiculous non-impairment urine test for a drug that is actually legal in Washington state. Being fired from your job because of something you did days or even weeks ago is in many respects worse than getting a DUI.

Tobacco kills almost half a million Americans per year. Alcohol kills tens of thousands each year. Cannabis, eh, basically zero.
And yet if you smoke a bowl on Saturday night, you might fail a urine test on Monday or Tuesday, days after you were last under the influence, and thus lose your employment, you livelihood, and possibly get tagged with a scarlet letter which can taint future job possibilities. Bullshit. The urine test is and always has been bullshit.

4. Porter Browning spews:

And all of this will change if when the rethugs get back in power.