Poll: State marijuana laws should trump federal enforcement

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A majority of Americans want the federal government to not interfere with state marijuana rules and governance, a new poll says.

In a Gallup survey released Dec. 10, 64 percent of adult respondents said the federal government should not enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal. Support for the state laws is higher than support for marijuana legalization in general, however.

According to the poll, 60 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 support legalizing marijuana across all of the United States. Roughly the same percentage of those aged 65 and older are opposed. Middle-aged Americans are split on the issue, says Gallup.

In 1969 when Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, only 12 percent supported such a change.

Regardless of polls, the Justice Department is still reviewing the legalization laws passed in Colorado and Washington state to evaluate its enforcement options. "The department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," says a Dec. 5 statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Jenny Dunkan, who heads Washington state's western district. "Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress."

In the eyes of the federal government, "growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," and Dunkan specifically warns against bringing any amount of marijuana onto federal property, from office buildings to national parks and forests.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said that Washington is in new territory and will have to work with the federal government to best understand the situation. The Seattle Times quotes Holmes at a Dec. 5 press conference saying, "We are trying to substitute a legal, licensed system for what is nearly a wholly illegal system. That is going to take time."

For more:
- read the full Gallup poll
- see Dunkan's statement
- read the Seattle Times article

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