Seattle's top federal prosecutor says Washington's medical marijuana system is "untenable" in light of new guidance from the Justice Department.
The DOJ announced Thursday that it will not sue to block Washington or Colorado from taxing and regulating recreational marijuana for adults. The department advised that it will allow states to regulate pot for medical or recreational reasons, as long as they have tight regulatory controls to address federal concerns, such as keeping the weed away from kids and out of the black market.
But Washington continues to have a largely unregulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement Thursday that the "continued operation and proliferation of unregulated, for-profit entities outside of the state's regulatory and licensing scheme is not tenable and violates both state and federal law."
U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby in Spokane issued the following statement after the DOJ announcement:
Here in the Eastern District of Washington, the United States Attorney’s Office has and will continue to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. My office will continue an aggressive focus on the promotion and sale of drugs to minors, violence and the use of firearms, and the trafficking of marijuana across state or international lines.
We will continue our work against organized criminal organizations and their underground economy, and against those who would use drug proceeds to fund other criminal activity.
We have and will continue to focus our prosecution efforts on federal enforcement priorities in Eastern Washington and to work with our state, local, and tribal partners to ensure the safety of our communities. This will not change.
It is important to underscore that the Department guidance is premised on the expectation that the state will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems. This is what Washington voters expect and were promised. I look forward to meeting with state leaders to hear how the promises of enhanced public safety will be met.
The continued operation and proliferation of unregulated, for-profit entities outside of the state's regulatory and licensing scheme is not tenable and violates both state and federal law. While federal prosecution resources are limited, my office will continue to enforce federal law in this arena by focusing on the critical public and federal interests outlined in the Department memo today.
This is an important moment for Washington, and I remain committed to working with law enforcement partners to focus on our priorities and address threats to public safety.