The federal government announced on Thursday that it won’t sue to stop recreational marijuana legalization in the states of Colorado and Washington.
The news adds a new twist on the marijuana situation in the United States, where it is illegal under federal laws but under varying types of legality in different states.
Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana late last year, but dispensaries and users have faced arrests and threats from agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, the national agency responsible for monitoring illegal drug use and distribution.
The federal government won’t make it a priority to block marijuana legalization in either state, or close down stores selling marijuana, as long as the stores abide by state regulations, according to new guidance issued on Thursday to prosecutors across the country, reported the Denver Post.
The guidance emphasizes that prosecutors shouldn’t target marijuana users or businesses, regardless of whether they are recreational or medical, if they are following state laws.
On the other hand, the guidelines include eight key federal prioirtires that prosecutors should consider when deciding whether or not to prosecute a person or a business.
• Preventing marijuana distribution to minors
• Preventing money from sales from going to criminal groups
• Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to states where it is illegal
• Preventing criminal groups from using state laws as cover for trafficking of other illegal drugs
• Preventing violence and the use of illegal firearms
• Preventing drugged driving
• Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands
• Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property
The announcement follows comments in December by President Barack Obama, who said it does not make sense for the federal government to go after recreational drug users in a state that has legalized recreational use of small amounts of marijuana.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.