Politics, pot 
and public lands

So, recreational use of marijuana may be legal in Colorado, thanks to a ballot measure approved by voters last year, but it’s not on federal lands in Colorado.

As The Daily Sentinel’s Gary Harmon reported Monday, if you get caught toking up at a ski area on U.S. Forest Service lands you will receive a citation under federal law.

Consistency, as we’ve noted before, is not the hallmark of federal agencies. But in this case, the inconsistency goes back to the nation’s top cop.

Back in August, Attorney General Eric Holder responded to requests from Colorado and Washington (which also legalized marijuana last year) to explain how the federal government would treat legal use of pot in these states, since possession of of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

Holder said the federal government wouldn’t prosecute so long as Colorado and Washington developed effective regulations for pot. But there was a caveat: Possession or use of any amount of marijuana would still be illegal on federal lands.

The message from the feds apparently is: If we’re the only game in town in terms of jurisdiction, we’re going to prosecute pot possession, but if their are multiple jurisdictions — local, state and federal — we won’t prosecute. That’s weirdly inconsistent, all the more so because there are actually multiple jurisdictions on federal lands, where state criminal law applies.

In any event, all those folks from other states eager to visit Colorado and enjoy some legal bud may be in for a big surprise if they light up on federal lands. One doesn’t have to be a supporter of legalized marijuana to recognize the confusion that will result from the federal approach.


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