In Colorado and Washington, voters recently approved measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Supporters say legalization will generate tax revenue, move the trade into the open, and free up law enforcement resources.
The Justice Department has a big decision to make.
Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous.
Voters in Washington and Colorado just approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But businesses that want to sell marijuana in those states will face a problem: No bank wants to do business with them.
I called several banks in Washington. I called a local credit union, a tiny bank in the San Juan islands. Everybody said basically the same thing. Even if selling marijuana is legal under state law, it's still illegal under federal law. And banks and credit unions worry that this could get them in trouble.