The Rachel Maddow Show | December 11, 2012
>>> obviously i didn't support it. ask me how i feel about it is like being a governor of a state that has terrible forest fires . you take this job, you know, good and bad. and our voters very clearly said that they thought this was a step forward .
>> and there you have it. colorado governor john hickenlooper not feeling so chill about his state's voter approved decriminalization of marijuana . coloradans ad as you may recall voted last month to amend their state constitution to legalized use of small amounts of marijuana. and this week governor hickenlooper sort of reluctantly signed the paperwork that gets sba that into the state constitution . he also signed an executive order setting up a task force to figure out how to implement the new law, how, for example, the state will regulate the new pot market. the great state of colorado seen here enjoying their drug of choice on the steps of the state capitol building are of course not waiting around for the details to be ironed out. but the details are pretty important. apart from the state of colorado figuring out how to regulate the newly constitutional right to smoke a bowl, there's the not so small matter of federal law . marijuana use may be well be enshrined in the colorado constitution as of this week. it's still not legal in the eyes of the federal government . they're about to find themselves in the middle of a major clash between state and federal law . and until it is resolved, we have something of a legal pickle. colorado 's governor for example reached out to the justice department for guidance, but he does not seem to have gotten very far in his talk with the feds.
>> this is a complex piece of jurisdiction. it could end up in the supreme court . we recognize they are working as hard as they can to find what the right legal decision is.
>> the justice department is not specific on how to deal with federal lawbreakers in states that legalize pot. they released this ominous sounding statement on the day it became legal in colorado . the department of justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in colorado and washington state . the department's responsibility to enforce the controlled substances act remains unchanged. in enacting the controlled substances act , colorado determined that marijuana is a scheduled one controlled substance , regardless of any changes in state law , including the change in colorado . growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under the federal law . sounds like the justice department is about to have a fight on its hands whether it wants it or not. but in all the discussion about how to reconcile the opposing state and federal laws , a pretty simple fix is largely overlooked. this comes for the very same law the justice department is citing to emphasize that pot is still a dangerous and elicit drug in the eyes of the federal government t controlled substances act . the controlled substances act was signed into law by 1970 by one richard nixon . it created a system of sorting drugs into categories. the most dangerous being with the ones with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. these are big time illegal drug ls. marijuana is a schedule one drug, along with heroin, lsd and ecstasy. the schedules go all the way up to schedule five, which is stuff not seen as likely to be abused and easy to get. like cough medicine . but schedule two. one stuff down from the stuff the federal government says is turbo dangerous. these are things that you can get a prescription for. methadone, ritalin, oxycontin. marijuana is on the super bad drug list along with lsd and heroin while cocaine and pcp are on the less dangerous list with all the kids adhd drugs. these are not carved in stone . they can be changed without an act of congress . as my colleague dale mathews outlined at the " washington post " today, if there's a citizens petition asking for it, the drug enforcement administration can work to get a drug, say, marijuana, rescheduled. quote, in effect that means the attorney general can direct the dea to act on a petition for marijuana rescheduling. eric holder can move it from the list of scheduled drugs, decriminalizing it for medical use federally. as luck would have it, one of the petitions is working through the legal system right now. so there is a simple way to resolve what could otherwise be a messy federal state battle over pot smoking in colorado and washington. the feds could just give a little, chill out on this whole pot thing.
>> i didn't think i would see this day. and then it happened. constipated? yeah. mm.