Gov. Chris Gregoire has not reached out to the Justice Department for clarity on the federal response to marijuana legalization, and does not plan to join Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has a call scheduled Friday afternoon with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to talk about the legalization measure his state passed.
Gregoire’s staff, along with the state attorney general and the Liquor Control Board, is instead planning to meet internally first regarding Initiative 502, said her spokesman, Cory Curtis. “We obviously have to have the conversation” with the Justice Department, said Curtis. “There’s this cloud hanging over it, no pun intended.”
Although Washington voted to legalize small amounts of marijuana beginning Dec. 6, pot remains illegal under federal law.
Curtis said contact with the Justice Department will likely begin through the state attorney general and the Liquor Control Board, which is the lead agency in setting up I-502’s state-licensed marijuana stores. AG spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie said the agencies have not met to game-plan for I-502.
Hickenlooper, who opposed Colorado’s Amendment 64, cautioned voters after election day to not “break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly” because of the federal threat, and the Colorado attorney general said the Justice Department should make its intentions clear quickly.
Colorado’s measure calls on the state Legislature to set rules for their state-licensed marijuana stores, which would not open for at least a year.
The process to set those rules in Washington will also take at least a year, and Gregoire also hopes for clarity. “Our big concern is that we not move down the road with money and time on rule-making if they are going to stop the process,” said Curtis.