Opinion

EDITORIAL | Marijuana law to go unchallenged

Many Washingtonians can breathe, or exhale, a sigh of relief this week.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder notified Gov. Jay Inslee and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in a telephone call Thursday that neither state’s new marijuana laws would be challenged.

We believe this is good news.

We are all Americans and this is a pivotal case of state versus federal rights but, in this instance, Uncle Sam is right to back off.

Whatever an individual’s feelings are concerning the recreational use of marijuana — good, bad or indifferent — 55.7 percent of Washington voters, that’s more than 1.7 million people, voted to approve Initiative 502 this past December.

Going to war or funding healthcare are complicated matters with the potential to affect us all. Those issues are rightly decided collectively.

This is not one of those cases.

Washington, as a state, made a decision about our future, what we believe is safe and appropriate. And, if our new law is implemented wisely, that choice that should have limited impacts on our neighbors.

One person’s decision to get high in Washington will not negatively affect the quality of life of a person in New York, Florida or California.

It appears, however, the federal government plans to make sure that is the case, and rightfully so.

During Thursday’s call with Inslee and Hickenlooper, Holder said the federal government would not challenge either state’s new marijuana laws, but it would not turn a blind eye either.

“Attorney General Holder made it clear the federal government will continue to enforce the federal Controlled Substance Act by focusing its enforcement on eight specific concerns, including the prevention of distribution to minors and the importance of keeping Washington-grown marijuana within our state’s borders,” said Inslee, in a joint statement with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

“We share those concerns and are confident our state initiative will be implemented as planned,” the statement said.

Voting to legalize marijuana use in our state was our right. But, it’s also the right of the federal government to ensure our decision won’t affect those who are too young to decide for themselves, or who made a different choice about their future.

Washingtonians’ right to choose does not supersede the rights of others, and both the state and federal government should be congratulated for their measured and reasonable approach to a smoky issue.

 

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