Gregoire: No fed decision yet on pot legalization

SEATTLE — Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday the federal government still hasn’t decided whether to take action to block new laws legalizing marijuana in her state and Colorado.

Gregoire met with Deputy Attorney General James Cole in Washington, D.C. She told Cole she would prefer to know “sooner rather than later,” because Washington state is in the process of getting ready to decriminalize pot, which is still illegal under federal law.

“I told them, ‘Make no mistake, that absent an injunction of some sort, it’s our intent to implement decriminalization,’” Gregoire told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to spend a lot of money implementing this if you are going to attempt to block it.”

Initiative 502 passed last week with 55 percent of the vote in the state. It decriminalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana beginning Dec. 6. The state would license the growing, processing and labeling of marijuana, but state officials have a year to come up with those rules before sales can begin.

Colorado also passed a measure legalizing the drug.

Federal lawyers are reviewing the two new state laws, trying to determine what their response will be, Gregoire said.

“It’s not a simple analysis for them,” she said. “There’s a difference between our two initiatives, and they want to look at that. They clearly want to know how things are going to flow, how regulations develop, how enforcement would be taken, taxes would be gathered.”

She said she pressed Cole as to whether the ultimate federal response would treat both Washington and Colorado the same way, and Justice Department officials indicated to her that that was their intent.

In Washington, home-growing marijuana for recreational reasons remains barred, as does the public display or use of pot. The measure also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence, and Gregoire says the Washington State Patrol has to begin training officers to enforce that portion of the measure.

“He can’t wait, he’s got to start doing this,” Washington’s governor said.

Gregoire said she promised to keep the Justice Department fully informed as to the progress the state is making in implementing the new marijuana law.

Colorado’s governor and attorney general spoke by phone Friday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with no signal whether the U.S. Justice Department would sue to block the marijuana measure.

If Colorado’s marijuana ballot measure is not blocked, it would take effect by Jan. 5, the deadline for the governor to add the amendment to the state Constitution. The measure allows adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and six marijuana plants, though public use of the drug and driving while intoxicated are prohibited.

Colorado’s new law also directs lawmakers to write regulations on how pot can be sold, with commercial sales possible by 2014.

More in Local News

It’s hard to find a parking spot at Wallace Falls State Park

There’s a study under way on how to tackle that issue and others.

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s top images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Most Read