Elections | Local

Feds Silent So Far On Marijuana Ballot Measures

Northwest News Network | Oct. 15, 2012 4:02 p.m.

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Marijuana activists rally in support of Measure 80 in front of the Oregon state capitol Monday. Photo by Virginia Alvino

Marijuana activists rally in support of Measure 80 in front of the Oregon state capitol Monday. Photo by Virginia Alvino

Two years ago, US Attorney General Eric Holder opposed a California initiative to legalize marijuana. But this year, the Justice Department has been silent on similar measures before voters in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Monday, a group of former federal drug officials urged the Obama administration to weigh in.

Former Drug Enforcement Administration chief Peter Bensinger says if voters approve the marijuana legalization measures, they’ll put their residents at odds with federal drug laws.

“People that are growing it and selling it,” he says. “I would think would have to be very worried.”

With less than a month to go before the election, the Obama administration hasn’t taken a public position on the issue.

At a rally at the Oregon capitol in support of Measure 80, marijuana legalization activist Madeline Martinez says she wishes the feds would take a stance. But not the one favored by the former DEA heads.

“We’ve been waiting for the federal government for so long,” she says. “We would like to have them lead or get out of our way.”

Backers of Washington’s Initiative 502 issued a statement saying state voters should decide marijuana policy, not the federal justice department.

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Virginia Alvino contributed to this report.

On the Web:

Washington Initiative 502 - full text

Oregon Measure 80 - full text

Federal laws pertaining to marijuana

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 N3. To see more, visit http://www.nwnewsnetwork.org/.

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