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Pot Legalized

November 8, 2012 by  

Pot Legalized, Votes making Colorado and Washington the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana for recreational use could be short-lived victories for pot backers because the federal government will fight them, two former U.S. drug control officials said on Wednesday.

They said the federal government could sue to block parts of the measures or send threatening letters to marijuana shops, followed up by street-level clampdowns similar to those targeting medical marijuana dispensaries the government suspects are fronts for drug traffickers.

“This is a symbolic victory for (legalization) advocates, but it will be short-lived,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the Obama administration’s drug czar, told reporters.

“They are facing an uphill battle with implementing this, in the face of … presidential opposition and in the face of federal enforcement opposition,” Sabet said.

Colorado and Washington state legalized the possession and sale of marijuana for adult recreational use on Tuesday through ballot measures in defiance of federal law, while a similar initiative was defeated at the polls in Oregon.

The initiatives appeared to reflect growing national support for liberalized marijuana laws, as indicated by a Gallup poll last year that found 50 percent of Americans favored making it legal, versus 46 percent opposed.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which considers marijuana an illegal drug liable to being abused, said enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act “remains unchanged.”

“We are reviewing the ballot initiatives and have no additional comment at this time,” a government statement said.

Sabet said he expected the Obama administration would at some point file a federal lawsuit to challenge and seek to block aspects of state-level legalization measures and that this “is going to be caught up in the courts for quite a while.”

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