The Obama administration has given marijuana advocates something to cheer about, and the message announced Thursday is loud and clear: It will not interfere with new laws in Colorado and Washington State permitting recreational use of marijuana.
Although the Justice Department will not bring federal prosecutions against dispensaries or businesses that sell small amounts of marijuana to adults, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and U.S. prosecutors will continue to enforce the law against those who sell marijuana to minors or to criminal gangs that are involved in drug trafficking.
Not everyone is happy about the decisions, and opponents are speaking out against the Obama administration’s stance.
"Decades from now, the Obama administration will be remembered for undoing years of progress in reducing youth drug use in America," Dr. Paul R. Chabot of the Coalition for a Drug Free California said in a statement.
"This president will be remembered for many failures, but none as large as this one, which will lead to massive youth drug use, destruction of community values, increased addiction and crime rates," he continued.
Others are accusing the administration of sending mixed messages.
A statement on The White House website reads, “Marijuana places a significant strain on our health care system, and poses considerable danger to the health and safety of the users themselves, their families, and our communities. We know that marijuana use, particularly long-term, chronic use that began at a young age, can lead to dependence and addiction.”