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Mr. Obama, just say no to state ballots on marijuana legalization

The silence of America's top law enforcement officials – President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder – on three state votes to legalize marijuana is puzzling. If any of the measures pass, it will cause a constitutional crisis as well as a dangerous jump in pot use.

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Chicago police enter an area where authorities are busy chopping down 6-to-8-foot tall marijuana plants that they found growing on a chunk of land the size of two football fields on the city's South Side Oct. 3. Officers on routine patrol in a police helicopter spotted the crop.

AP Photo

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Voters in three states face ballot measures Nov. 6 on whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. If any one of them passes, it will be a historic first for the United States. But it will also lead to clear violations of federal law that has long banned pot – for any use.

To avoid a constitutional crisis for whoever occupies the White House next year, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must speak out now – as law enforcement officers – to influence voters in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.

An ounce of political prevention would be worth a pound of legal cures later.

Their silence as federal officials is difficult to understand. In the last two years, the Justice Department has been tough in many of the 17 states that now allow marijuana for alleged medical use – especially in California, where the rules on pot dispensaries are weak and the will of state leaders to fix them even weaker.

The White House’s reticence is also puzzling because Mr. Obama was not shy about taking on Arizona over its immigration law. His inconsistency on these two fronts with states suggests to some a political desire to push pro-pot young people to the polls, especially in the pivotal state of Colorado. If true, that also suggests a political expediency at the expense of moral integrity.

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