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In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Feds Won't Sue To Block Washington Pot Legalization

Austin Jenkins.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee with Attorney General Bob Ferguson react to the Obama administration's decision not to sue to block marijuana legalization

The Obama administration will not sue to block Washington and Colorado from legalizing recreational marijuana.

The news -- which comes as welcome relief to state regulators after months of waiting -- came in a phone call from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Washington Governor Jay Inslee and his counterpart in Colorado.

The basic message: you can implement legal pot, but we’ll be watching and we still reserve the right to sue if there are problems.

At a hastily called news conference, Inslee called it the “trust but verify” approach to letting the states continue on in their legalization experiment. “What I’m hearing from the federal government is that they believe there’s a reason to trust the states of Colorado and Washington," Inslee said. "That we have a real disciplined, well regulated, financed system of enforcing these laws."

"We’ve shown them reason to trust, be we need to show it on the ground, we need to show it in the real world.”

The Department of Justice says its law enforcement priorities still remain the same: cracking down on the sale of pot to minors, the leakage of legal marijuana to other states and preventing cartels and gangs from profiting.

On the Web:

Marijuana enforcement policy update - US Department of Justice
Gov. Inslee's full response - Office if the Governor