Mixed Messages Threaten Washington’s Marijuana Industry

With more and more states preparing to legalize marijuana in one form or another, all eyes are focusing hard on Colorado and Washington. Spectators on both sides of the fence want to know how this is all going to work. The pro side is aiming for success while the anti crowd is begging for failure. Sitting square on top of the fence is our government overlords who simply refuse to pick a side.

Skillfully teasing both sides, our elected officials are doing what they do best … pander to the beliefs of whoever they may be talking to at the time while being careful to note that they don’t have the ability to make any changes on their own … thus absolving themselves of the responsibility of actually doing something while probably still keeping their voter base intact.

Other government employees, however, are playing a far more dangerous game. The Department of Justice, overseer of the DEA and FBI, have publicly taken a “wait and see” approach but their minions are sending mixed messages that are seriously problematic.

Their latest move is one of the more confusing that I’ve seen. While the DOJ has stated that keeping the criminal element out of legalized marijuana is a top priority, the FBI is refusing to run national background checks for license applicants in the state of Washington. Even more perplexing is the fact that the background checks Washington is requesting are the same kind that they have provided in the state of Colorado. When asked why, FBI spokesman Stephen Fischer issued a one sentence written statement:

“To ensure a consistent national approach, the department has been reviewing its background check policies, and we hope to have guidance for states in the near term.” (read more here: Yahoo! News)

My hunch … They see the way the tides are turning and know that they need something drastic to keep their hold on the War on Drugs (otherwise known as their gravy train). I think they’re trying to set Washington up for failure. Washington is trying to do the best they can with the resources they have available to them but, without the nationwide  background checks, it seems likely that some people could be approved for licenses when they really shouldn’t have been. And that is where the DEA will be waiting to pounce. Maybe there’s a little too much “conspiracy theorist” in this opinion, but it seems to me that providing a few strategic examples of the DEA finding a criminal element employed in the legal marijuana industry would serve them well in their pursuits. It would create their “See, I told you so.” moment and could cause less committed supporters to sway the other way.

Whether I’m right on target or way off base, it’s time for our government to take a position and allow legitimate business owners in a burgeoning industry a way to operate without fear. This is America after all.