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Feds won’t sue to stop state laws on marijuana use

Gerald Thompson held up a bag of marijuana on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver after recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2012.

Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/AP

Gerald Thompson held up a bag of marijuana on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver after recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2012.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government said Thursday that it won’t sue to stop the states of Colorado and Washington from allowing recreational marijuana use.

In a sweeping policy announcement, the Justice Department outlined eight top priority areas for its enforcement of marijuana laws.

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They range from preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors to preventing sales revenue from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels and preventing the diversion of marijuana outside of states where it is legal under state law.

Other top-priority enforcement areas include preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover for trafficking other illegal drugs and preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. The top areas also include preventing drugged driving, preventing growing marijuana on public land and preventing marijuana possession on federal property.

The announcement follows the first-in-the-nation legalization of recreational marijuana use by the states of Colorado and Washington.

Last December, President Barack Obama said it does not make sense for the federal government to go after recreational drug users in a state that has legalized recreational use of small amounts of marijuana.

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