Washington's senators nudge Justice Department on marijuana

By:  Puget Sound Business Journal - Valerie Bauman
Source: Puget Sound Business Journal

Washington state's U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell wrote to the Department of Justice Tuesday, asking for answers on Washington state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

The Democratic senators, along with five Democratic members of the House representing Washington state, urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to avoid preempting the state’s new marijuana law. They also asked him not to prosecute anyone in the state who is acting in compliance with Washington’s marijuana law.

“We also urge DOJ to announce its decided course of action as soon as possible to provide legal certainty for our citizens, businesses, and lawmakers,” the letter said.

The lawmakers noted that the state has invested many resources into establishing a legal marijuana system. It also pointed out that many businesses were looking to invest in the new economy, which is expected to generate new jobs and tax revenue for Washington.

“During a time of constrained federal resources, we believe DOJ has higher priorities than the pursuit of legal action against persons in compliance with the laws of the states,” the letter read. “We expect and encourage your continued prosecution of activities that occur outside the bounds of state law.”

The state has moved swiftly to establish legal boundaries for the new industry, hiring a team of consultants to help the state Liquor Control Board create the rules for the production, processing and distribution of marijuana.