Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Colorado and Washington today that the Justice Department will not prosecute recreational pot businesses in either state so long as they follow state laws and regulations, as well as abide by a new set of federal guidelines. The agreement marks the biggest shift in federal drug policy since the enactment of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.
The Huffington Post reports that the Justice Department will prosecute retailers only under the following circumstances:
- the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
- the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
- state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
- drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
- preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
While John Ingersold of the Denver Post reports that "the size or profitability of legal marijuana businesses will no longer be a factor in assessing whether they should be a target for prosecution," Ryan Grimm and Ryan J. Reilly of the HuffPo note that "the eight high-priority areas leave prosecutors bent on targeting marijuana businesses with a fair amount of leeway."