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State still faces challenges after federal pot response

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SEATTLE — “Everybody’s excited, everybody’s really excited,” said Dante Jones, who can’t wait to turn his medical marijuana dispensary into a full-fledged retail pot business now that it appears the feds are taking a hands-off approach.

pot“This is something that’s going to work,” Jones said Friday. “They’re going to follow the state law.”

Well, sort of.  It’s more like the feds will let Olympia follow the state law, as long pot buyers and sellers follow state law. The feds have eight priorities they want to see followed in Washington, including keeping pot out of the hands of kids.


Lee Grogg, who works with teens battling substance abuse, said he’s concerned that once anyone over 21 can walk into a store and buy marijuana, pot will be as easy for kids to get as cigarettes and alcohol.

“If the market heats up and there’s a lot of competition, there’ll be that much more pressure to sell to whoever comes in the door,” Grogg said. “That would be a tragic thing if that means people are going to wink at the law and provide this substance to kids.”

The feds also want to keep the drugs within the state’s borders. The state says it’s working on a high-tech tracking system that will follow plants from seed to sale.

But can Washington state really guarantee people won’t come here, buy pot, and take it home to another state?

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan is warning that the state better keep the pot within its borders. In a strongly worded response to Thursday’s “hands-off” announcement by the Justice Department, Durkan — who works for the Justice Department — promised her office in Seattle would continue to enforce federal drug laws with “an aggressive focus on the trafficking of marijuana across state lines.”

Durkan also said the current medical marijuana industry is “not tenable,”  primarily because it’s not well regulated.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said he expects a change made to the laws to create licensing and regulation for medical marijuana that will be similar to the rules for retail pot.

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