WASHINGTON — In a long-awaited ruling, the Justice Department today said it would not interfere with plans by the states of Washington and Colorado to begin selling and taxing marijuana for recreational use beginning next year.
The department made its announcement in a memo released to federal prosecutors.
Attorney General Eric Holder had been under intense pressure to respond to the passage of laws in both states legalizing the recreational use of pot, even as marijuana remains classified as an illegal drug under federal law.
Advocates of legalization cheered the move.
“Today’s announcement is a major and historic step toward ending marijuana prohibition,” said Morgan Fox, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group in Washington, D.C.