California Needs Stronger Marijuana Regulation, Federal Official Says

CALIFORNIA:  California should strengthen its regulation of the medical marijuana industry if the state wants to avoid federal intervention, U.S. Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole said Thursday in an interview with The Times.

Cole, who announced Thursday that he is leaving the No. 2 job at the Justice Department, said he was proud of his efforts to take a softer approach to enforcing federal marijuana laws. A year ago, Cole sent a memo to all U.S. attorneys, including several in California who had aggressively targeted medical marijuana facilities, telling them to ease up on marijuana prosecutions in states where it was legal.

But in the interview, Cole said that states should still have a strong regulatory system in place for the use and sale of marijuana, something he said California lacks.

Unlike most other states that have legalized marijuana in some form, California has no statewide regulatory regimen, leaving counties and cities to create a hodgepodge of rules and protections.