Voters' choice to legalize pot may not be the final word

National and international pressure mounting to block state law

POSTED: 05:44 PM MST Mar 05, 2013 

Colorado's vote to legalize pot may not be the final word.  There is increasing pressure at the national and international level to block our new law.

As U.S. Attorney Eric Holder considers how to deal with Colorado's new law, eight former DEA chief's are urging him to force Colorado to rescind the legislation.

The United Nations is also pressuring the federal government.  It says the law violates international drug treaties.

"Anybody getting into this business is accepting that level of risk," said attorney Clifton Black.

Black works with dispensary owners who've already got a taste of what it's like to run a business that's illegal at the federal level.  "I spend about two and a half hours with people, going over legal issues they may be facing," he said.

Black said they can't open bank accounts or write off expenses on their taxes and could be forced to shut down.

"There's always the risk that the federal government could change its mind and go after them and make them shut down," said Black.

"Our nation has never based its policies entirely on international treaties and the states have never done that.  We don't expect that to change," said Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Tvert said he doesn't believe increased pressure will sway Holder's decision.  "The president, the attorney general, DEA have all said adult marijuana possession isn't something the federal government wants to take on or can take on," Tvert said.

But Black said, you can never know for sure what the federal government will do.  Last March, the U.S. Attorney's office took issue with dispensaries they felt were too close to schools.  "The City of Colorado Springs said they have to be outside 400 feet, but the federal government said if (a business) is within 1,000 feet we will shut you down if you don't close voluntarily," said Black.

Holder is looking at policy options and international implications.

Voters also approved legalizing marijuana in Washington State.  It is facing the same federal challenges.