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'Grass' Not Necessarily Greener on Other Side

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September 17, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Marijuana cigarettes

Karen Strand didn’t think she'd get in trouble for having a small container of medical marijuana when she went hiking in Olympic National Park this summer.

President Barack Obama, she remembered, had said the federal government had ‘‘bigger fish to fry’’ than people who follow state marijuana laws, and Washington state had just legalized pot.

But a ranger pulled her over on a remote gravel road, and Strand wound up as one of at least 27,700 people cited for having pot on federal land since 2009, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal court data. The number of citations is small compared to the hundreds of millions of visitors to national parks, forests and monuments each year.

But it nevertheless illustrates one of the many issues Washington, Colorado and other states face in complying with last month’s Justice Department memo that requires them to address eight federal law enforcement priorities if they want to regulate marijuana. Among those priorities is keeping marijuana use and possession off federal property.

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