November 12, 2012

It is encouraging that the Justice Department is not immediately challenging Washington state and Colorado’s marijuana legalization laws [“Marijuana legality elicits confusion,” news, Nov. 10]. The best course is a “wait-and-see” approach.

The nation can now observe two different experiments in state marijuana control — if the Justice Department cooperates. But if it fights these states the way it has fought state medical marijuana laws for 16 years, it will delay the learning of potential regulatory and social techniques to control marijuana use, production and distribution.

The president’s National Drug Control Strategy statement that marijuana legalization “will not be considered” has been nullified by millions of voters. In Mexico, the transition chief for President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto suggested officials there see U.S. marijuana legalization as a reality that “change[s] ... the rules of the game.”

It is in everyone’s interest for the Obama administration to help Washington and Colorado write the new rules, not to imagine it can push toothpaste back into a tube. 

Eric E. Sterling, Silver Spring

The writer is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.