Last November, Colorado and Washington voters approved ballot initiatives to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana—decisions that put them at odds with federal law, which continues to ban marijuana. The states are moving ahead with implementation of their unprecedented laws in the face of uncertainty regarding the response of the federal government.

What exactly have the states voted to do? What authority does the federal government have with respect to the new laws? What are the trends in U.S. public opinion on marijuana policy?

In this paper, John Walsh and leading experts from the field respond to the most pressing questions in this debate, discussing the implementation of the new laws and exploring the key challenges in creating regulatory regimes for recreational marijuana—even as the federal ban remains in place.

This paper, edited by Washington Office on Latin America Senior Associate John Walsh, is the third in a WOLA-Brookings series on marijuana policy in the United States and abroad.

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