Marijuana: John Hickenlooper, Mason Tvert react to feds' Amendment 64 decision

It's only been a matter of minutes since news broke about the Obama administration announcing that it won't sue to stop Amendment 64 from going into effect.

But we're already hearing from major players about this huge development, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, marijuana advocate and major A64 proponent Mason Tvert and the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell. Here's what each of them had to say.

Statement by Governor John Hickenlooper:

Governor John Hickenlooper.
Governor John Hickenlooper.
"We recognize how difficult this issue has been for the Department of Justice and we appreciate the thoughtful approach it has taken. Amendment 64 put Colorado in conflict with federal law. Today's announcement shows the federal government is respecting the will of Colorado voters. "We share with the federal government its priorities going forward. We are working to improve education and prevention efforts directed at young people and on enforcement tools to prevent access to marijuana by those under 21 years of age. We are also determined to keep marijuana businesses from being fronts for criminal enterprises or other illegal activity, and we are committed to preventing the exportation of marijuana out of Colorado while also enhancing efforts to keep state roads safer from impaired drivers."

Statement of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers:

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
"The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) contacted Governor John Hickenlooper and me this morning to inform us of the position they are taking with regard to Colorado having legalized marijuana at the state level. The position taken by DOJ is very much along the lines I anticipated and I remain mystified as to why it took so long to articulate it. Clarification of the federal position, however, is nevertheless welcome. Colorado state government will continue to develop a regulatory scheme that is as effective as possible under the dictates of Amendment 64 with recognition that the federal government will take action if the state regulatory scheme does not deter activity that runs afoul of federal enforcement priorities. "The eight criteria set forth for future federal prosecutions of marijuana in Colorado will give state and local law enforcement officials a basis for discussion with federal law enforcement officials about prosecuting those who abuse Colorado's marijuana regulatory system."

Statement of Marijuana Policy Project spokesman and Amendment 64 proponent Mason Tvert:

Mason Tvert.
Mason Tvert.
Photo by Sam Levin
"This is a historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition. The Obama Administration's decision to allow implementation of the laws in Colorado and Washington is a clear signal that states are free to determine their own policies with respect to marijuana." "We applaud the Department of Justice for its thoughtful approach and sensible decision. The next step is for Congress to act. We need to fix our nation's broken marijuana laws and not just continue to work around them."

Statement of Marijuana Majority co-founder Tom Angell:

Tom Angell.
Tom Angell.
"It's nice to hear that the Obama administration doesn't at this point intend to file a lawsuit to overturn the will of the voters in states that have opted to modernize their marijuana policies, but it remains to be seen how individual U.S. attorneys will interpret the new guidance and whether they will continue their efforts to close down marijuana businesses that are operating in accordance with state law.

"It's significant that U.S. attorneys will no longer be able to use the size or profitability of a legal marijuana business to determine whether or not it should be a target for prosecution, but the guidelines seem to leave some leeway for the feds to continue making it hard for state-legal marijuana providers to do business.

"The administration's statement that it doesn't think busting individual users should be a priority remains meaningless, as it has never been a federal focus to go after people just for using small amounts of marijuana. The real question is whether the president will call off his federal agencies that have been on the attack and finally let legal marijuana businesses operate without harassment, or if he wants the DEA and prosecutors to keep intervening as they have throughout his presidency and thus continue forcing users to buy marijuana on the illegal market where much of the profits go to violent drug cartels and gangs.

"In all, today's announcement represents a step in a right direction and a recognition by the administration that the politics of marijuana are rapidly shifting in favor of those who support legalization. However, my optimism is tempered by the fact that despite the Justice Department's 2009 announcement that it shouldn't be a priority to bust medical marijuana providers operating in accordance with state law, this administration went on to close down more state-legal marijuana businesses in one term than the Bush administration did in two terms.

"Polls from Pew and Gallup show that a supermajority of Americans wants the president to follow through on his 2008 pledges to respect marijuana laws, and that's what advocates will continue pressing him to do."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Obama administration will not sue to stop Amendment 64."

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