What happens to legal pot in Washington now?
OLYMPIA, Wash. (KOMO) -- The marijuana industry is facing an unknown future.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an order that had the federal government looking the other way when it comes to marijuana.
Voters in Washington legalized marijuana five years ago. California just began this week.
But Sessions has rescinded what's known as the Cole memo. "Rescinding that memo just sends the industry into chaos," said Tedd Wetherbee, owner of The Gallery marijuana stores. "As far as we're concerned it's grown too large for the federal government to ignore or attempt to squash."
While the state has legalized marijuana, it is still considered illegal by the federal government. Up to now the local U.S. attorneys were told to basically look the other way in state's where pot has been legalized. Now that's all up in the air.
"It leaves open what exactly does he mean by doing this?" said Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He and Gov. Jaty Inslee said they don't know what to make of this new development and don't yet know if they'll take legal action against the Trump administration.
"We should not be intimidated on this issue by the Trump Administration," said Inslee. "We should believe that we can control our own destiny."
U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Annette Hayes said her office will vigorously go after serious crimes related to marijuana. But there is no word on what if anything will happen to shops and individuals.
"It might just end up being the passivity or inaction of whoever ends up being the local (US) attorney," said Inslee. "That person is going to have a hard time going down the street in the state of Washington if they decide to go back to the previous century on marijuana policy."
"I didn't support the (marijuana) initiative," said state Senator Ann Rivers, R-Clark County. But now the Republican lawmaker has become an advocate, especially with $750 million in tax revenue from the industry. "So we have almost eradicated the black market in Washington state. Why would we go away from that?"
"It seems to be working really well the way it's going," said marijuana store customer Vickie Woolery. "So I don't see the problem with any of it, honestly."
Supporters of legalizing marijuana say the easy solution is to get Congress to legalize it nationwide, especially now that more than 60% of Americans have access to marijuana after it became legal in California.
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