Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson are traveling to Washington, D.C., next week to meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss marijuana enforcement and implementation of Initiative 502, our state’s voter-approved legal pot law.
The state law conflicts with federal law, which maintains that all forms of marijuana are illegal.
As the state begins to establish regulations for a new legal marijuana industry, and investors prepare to plow money into it, questions loom about whether the federal government will crack down on Washington or look the other way.
“We know there are issues with federal enforcement,” said Inslee spokesman David Postman, and Inslee and Ferguson want to talk face-to-face with Holder. “I’d say this is the start of a substantive conversation,” Postman said.
The meeting is supposed to occur Tuesday.
Janelle Guthrie, spokeswoman for Ferguson, said she expects “a broad-based discussion at this point of implementation and enforcement” with Holder, the country’s top law officer. Guthrie said she’s wasn’t aware of specific questions Inslee and Ferguson would ask.
President Obama has said recreational pot smoking in Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized it, is not a major concern for his administration.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News last month. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
But some pot advocates remain leery, because earlier statements from the administration that it wouldn’t go after individual medical-marijuana users were followed by crackdowns on dispensaries and others who grew and sold the pot. The Justice Department has declined to say whether it would file a lawsuit to block the laws.
Local law enforcement leaders also are awaiting clearer signs from the federal government about its intentions.
Holder said last month he would announce a policy on the new state laws “relatively soon.”
In a statement following Obama’s comment about pot last month, Inslee said “I believe there is good reason to be confident that our state will move forward.”
Postman said he hopes to report on what was learned at the meeting with Holder next week.