SEATTLE — Washington joined Colorado in voting to become the first states to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use, but people shouldn’t expect to be able to buy a bag of legitimate weed any time soon.
Though Washington’s Initiative 502 decriminalizes the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana beginning Dec. 6, the state has a year to come up with rules governing the growing, processing and labeling of pot before sales to adults over 21 can begin.
In addition, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so the big question is whether the federal government will allow the measures in Washington and Colorado to take effect without a fight. The Justice Department is offering no enlightenment on that front.
“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” read identical statements issued by the U.S. attorney’s offices in Denver and Seattle.