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Washington’s marijuana law prompts high level federal meetings

A man known as "Professor Gizmo," smokes marijuana in a glass pipe on Wednesday just before midnight at the Space Needle in Seattle. (AP Photo)

High level meetings are happening at the White House and the Justice Department over what to do about Washington’s new marijuana law.

Washington state is in legal limbo considering marijuana is still against federal law. CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen thinks the feds are in a strong position.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if the feds went to court and said ‘this is a federal law, federal law pre-empts state law, there’s no constitutional right to smoke marijuana,’ the feds would likely win in court,” Cohen said.

Colorado had adopted a strong system of regulation and taxation for medicinal marijuana and Cohen speculates that the federal government might be reluctant to crack down on pot crimes if Washington state adopts a similar system.

Political considerations are also a factor in the deliberations in Washington, D.C. “Voters in these two states voted largely for Democratic candidates, the Obama administration had said it was going to take a different approach to the drug war and there are a lot of conservatives who, quite frankly, have signed on to the idea of legalization and taxation,” explained Cohen.

No immediate action from Washington, D.C. is anticipated by Cohen as the federal government takes a watch and wait attitude for the next few weeks or months.

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