Wash. leaders respond to AG Holder's pot announcement

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 29 at 2:18 PM

Statement from Inslee and Ferguson:

"Today we received confirmation Washington's voter-approved marijuana law will be implemented. We received good news this morning when Attorney General Eric Holder told the governor the federal government would not pre-empt Washington and Colorado as the states implement a highly regulated legalized market for marijuana.  Attorney General Holder made it clear the federal government will continue to enforce the federal Controlled Substance Act by focusing its enforcement on eight specific concerns, including the prevention of distribution to minors and the importance of keeping Washington-grown marijuana within our state's borders. We share those concerns and are confident our state initiative will be implemented as planned.

"We want to thank the Attorney General for working with the states on this and for finding a way that allows our initiative to move forward while maintaining a commitment to fighting illegal drugs. This reflects a balanced approach by the federal government that respects the states' interests in implementing these laws and recognizes the federal government's role in fighting illegal drugs and criminal activity.

"Attorney General Holder also expressed a willingness to work with the states on a financial structure that would not run afoul of federal law. The news today is an affirmation of good work by the state Liquor Control Board as it has devised a responsible system of implementing our voter-approved law. We can assure the Attorney General that Washington state will remain vigilant in enforcing laws against the illicit marijuana market. Since voters approved Initiative 502 last year, the state has been working to implement it. Today's announcement from Attorney General Holder is a confirmation that the process can continue to move forward as planned. We appreciate that the federal government will allow the voice of Washingtonians to be heard on this issue."

Statement from Seattle Police Interim Chief Jim Pugel:

“I am pleased Attorney General Eric Holder has provided clarity about the future of Initiative 502 in Washington state. Our department will continue our mission of public safety, harm reduction and public education encouraging safe and lawful behavior with regards to the guidelines for marijuana established by Washington voters.“

Statement from Jenny A. Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington:
 
"We have consistently focused on federal enforcement priorities in Western Washington, and have worked with our state and local partners to ensure the safety of our communities.  That will not change.  We will continue to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.  We will continue an aggressive focus on the promotion and sale of drugs to minors, violence and the use of firearms, and the trafficking of marijuana across state or international lines.  We will continue our work against organized criminal organizations and their underground economy, and against those who would use drug proceeds to fund other criminal activity. 
 
"The Department guidance is premised on the expectation that the state will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems.  This also is what Washington voters were promised and we expect no less today.  I look forward to meeting with state leaders to hear how the promises of enhanced public safety will be met.

"The continued operation and proliferation of unregulated, for-profit entities outside of the state's regulatory and licensing scheme is not tenable and violates both state and federal law.  While our resources are limited, we will continue to enforce federal law in this arena by focusing on the critical public and federal interests outlined in the Department memo today. 
 
"This is an important moment for Washington, and I remain committed to working with law enforcement partners to focus on our priorities and address threats to public safety."

Statement from the Washington Liquor Control Board: 

"The Washington State Liquor Control Board would like to thank the Obama Administration, particularly Attorney General Eric Holder and the Dept. of Justice for its guidance today.

"We would also like to thank Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson for their leadership and efforts on this issue these past nine months. As Gov. Inslee stated today, the Department of Justice today helped lay a path forward for Washington and Colorado to implement its systems of producing, processing and retailing recreational marijuana.

"The Board's primary rule-making focus has been to create a tightly regulated market with emphasis on public safety and restricting youth access. In his letter, AG Holder shared the same concerns. We believe the action taken today by the federal government is the result of the conversations by our state elected leaders with the Dept. of Justice as well as the open and transparent system in which the rules have been crafted. The Board is confident that Washington's recreational marijuana system will meet most, if not all, of the federal government's stated concerns.

"With the federal government's approval the Board will continue to move forward and implement I-502 and carry out the will of Washington State voters."

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