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Colorado, Washington await federal response to pot measures

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, Amanda Jetter celebrates along with others attending an Amendment 64 watch party in a bar after a local television station announced the marijuana amendment's passage, in Denver. Votes this week by Colorado and Washington to allow adult marijuana possession have prompted what could be a turning point in the nation's conflicted and confusing war on drugs. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

DENVER — Should marijuana be treated like alcohol? Or should it remain in the same legal category as heroin and the most dangerous drugs? Votes this week by Colorado and Washington to allow adult marijuana possession have prompted what could be a turning point in the nation's conflicted and confusing war on drugs.

Colorado's governor and attorney general spoke by phone Friday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, with no signal whether the U.S. Justice Department would sue to block the marijuana measures. Both states are holding off on plans to regulate and tax the drug while waiting to see whether the Justice Department would assert federal authority over drug law.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Washington's largest counties dropped all pending misdemeanor cases of marijuana possession Friday in response to that state's vote to legalize the drug.

The Obama administration has largely turned a blind eye to the 17 states that currently flout federal drug law by allowing people with certain medical conditions to use pot, something that is banned under federal law.

A spokesman for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said during Friday's talks, state officials asked Holder for the federal government's response to the marijuana vote but didn't get one.


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