When the White House recently said that it will not interfere with state legislation legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington, many anti-pot advocates went up in arms.
However, there is some evidence that the Obama administration’s hands-off policy could end up improving the situation in what is otherwise described as a medical marijuana ”Wild West.” The move will allow states to formulate their own policies with regard to the controversial drug.
Some experts, though, believe that the new position might help create some order in what is otherwise a shady marketplace. The medical marijuana market in other states often involves questionable practices in dispensing the herb with prescriptions.
The new policy may allow the administration to turn the screws on these operations in Colorado and Washington. The states will need to come up with “strict regulatory schemes” to avoid federal prosecution.
However, the new strict regulations will not only apply only to those two states according to Mark Kleiman, author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.
The other 18 states and the District of Columbia where pot is legal will also need to follow the new guidelines or face a federal crackdown. The states must meet eight federal enforcement priorities that cover matters like distributing marijuana to minors, selling marijuana for criminal purposes, and transporting marijuana over state lines.
Some states are already working on their regulation setups to meet the federal priorities so that they can keep Washington out of their business. Kleiman notes that the medical marijuana business is activating to clean up its own house to conform to the new policy.
The federal government, in essence, is providing the states with incentives for creating a better-regulated medical marijuana environment. California, for example, is looking into a new medical pot agency that will handle marijuana regulation.