California Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday on CNN that the Obama administration should respect states that choose to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.
“It’s time for the Justice Department to recognize the sovereignty of the states,” Brown said, noting that a number of states had medical marijuana laws. “I believe the president and the Department of Justice ought to respect the will of these separate states.”
Colorado and Washington state both legalized the recreational use of marijuana on Election Day. However, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug: the most restrictive classification, reserved drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medicinal value.
Brown said that federal law shouldn’t “nullify reasonable state measures” like regulated marijuana legalization.
“We are capable of self-government,” he added. “We don’t need some federal gendarme to come and tell us what to do. I believe in comity toward the states, that’s a decent respect.”
Though the U.S. Department of Justice has held back on prosecuting medical marijuana patients, U.S. Attorneys have enlisted the help of the DEA and IRS to crack down on marijuana dispensaries in states were medical marijuana in legal. Federal prosecutors in California have also threatened to target newspapers, radio stations and other media outlets that advertised for dispensaries.
Some have speculated the Obama administration will take legal action against Colorado and Washington to prevent the two states from legalizing the drug. In a statement, U.S. Attorney for Seattle Jenny Durkan said the Justice Department was “reviewing the ballot initiative here and in other states and has no additional comment at this time.”
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