Colo., Wash. await federal response to pot measure

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012
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Earlier this week, Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said enforcement of the federal Controlled Substances Act remained unchanged.

"In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance," Chitre said. "We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time."

Chitre declined to comment after Holder spoke with the Colorado officials.

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 measure also directs lawmakers to write regulations on how pot can be sold, with commercial sales possible by 2014.

In Washington state, marijuana possession of an ounce or less would become legal on Dec. 6 if the measure is not blocked, though setting up a state-run sales operation would take a year.

Marijuana business owners gathered in Denver for a two-day conference cheered the votes — but kept a close eye on their smartphones for word of a federal response.

Denver attorney Robert Corry told the crowd at the National Marijuana Business Conference that President Barack Obama sent a signal about marijuana when he made a record number of campaign visits to the battleground state this year and never talked about the marijuana vote.

"Silence equals consent. The time for the federal government to talk about marijuana legalization is over. The election has passed," Corry said to applause from the crowd. "Marijuana got 50,000 more votes than Obama on Tuesday. Don't think they didn't notice that."

But Corry quickly added that the federal marijuana approach will ultimately decide the question.

"Let's face it: the federal government is a fearsome force. They have the guns, they have the jails, they have the power," he said.

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Associated Press reporters P. Solomon Banda in Denver, Manuel Valdes in Seattle and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

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Find Kristen Wyatt on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt . Find Manuel Valdes on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByManuelValdes

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