White House Considers Legal Fight Over Pot

It might sue Colorado and Washington over legalization: NYT

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 7, 2012 2:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Top Justice Department and White House officials are meeting to figure out how to respond to marijuana initiatives that decriminalized possession in Washington and Colorado states, reports the New York Times. Options for the feds include bringing cases against low-level users, filing lawsuits against states to prevent them from setting up tax and regulatory systems, or cutting off federal money.

National officials have reiterated that marijuana remains illegal everywhere under federal law, but Americans generally believe the feds should back off if a state votes to decriminalize. “It’s a sticky wicket for Obama,” said one political science professor, noting that a tough federal response could be “a slap in the face to his base." As for going after low-level users: The idea would be to get a court case in the works that would ultimately require a judge to rule on whether federal law trumps state law.

In this May 13, 2009 file photo, marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif in Mendocino County.
In this May 13, 2009 file photo, marijuana grown for medical purposes is shown inside a greenhouse at a farm in Potter Valley, Calif in Mendocino County.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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