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Drug abuse prevention groups this week urged the Department of Justice to reconsider its announcement that it will allow Colorado and Washington to carry out their new recreational marijuana laws.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the groups said the government’s new stance on recreational marijuana laws was a mistake that will result in serious negative consequences, both economic and social, according to ABC News. “The policy will create several major obstacles to reducing drug use and its impacts in the United States,” according to the letter, written by groups including Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), the Drug Free America Foundation and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

The groups say the new policy will create large, for-profit, commercial marijuana wholesale and retail enterprises, promote expanded access to marijuana throughout communities, and “weaken youth perceptions of a drug that scientists unequivocally confirm harms the adolescent brain.” In addition, the letter states, the policy will compromise American diplomatic efforts, contradicting long-standing international treaty obligations.

The letter notes the department listed eight law-enforcement priorities that, if violated, will trigger federal action in legalization states. The groups ask how the department will determine if a violation has occurred. “Precisely how many additional underage marijuana users, marijuana-related driving injuries and fatalities, marijuana-related school dropouts, and other marijuana-related public health and safety consequences will be required to trigger federal intervention?” the groups asked. “How will such consequences be measured? What measurements will the Department use to assess the damage done in Colorado, Washington, and other states that legalize marijuana?”

Alison Holcomb, Drug Policy Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, who wrote Washington’s marijuana initiative, said the state’s law requires periodic evaluation of harm that results from marijuana use. It also requires reviews of public health, public safety, economic and social justice issues, she said.


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