Cloud Of Uncertainty

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Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 4:00pm

Washington state's legalization of recreational marijuana use creates confusion for smokers and law enforcement.

When the clock struck midnight in Seattle Thursday a hundred or so pot-lovers gathered beneath the Space Needle to light up.

Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Washington State after voters approved the measure on November 6th.

The new approach to marijuana lets adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot and use it, but only in private.

That means the very public midnight celebration was in still illegal.

The new law conflicts with the federal ban on marijuana and doesn't tell police how to go about enforcing it.

It also lacks specifics on how to license growers and retailers who produce and sell it.

State officials say they're plowing forward because prohibition got expensive.

The state spent $100 million a year prosecuting pot users.

"Washington state is awash, as most states are, in marijuana. Which is one of the points, why prohibition has so utterly failed in its purpose," says Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.

While the feds decide what, if anything, they'll do, the state is bracing for an influx of pot-smoking tourists.

"It's already happening. There's people from France, Norway, Boston and Portland here, so it's already happening," says marijuana advocate Kevin Oliver.

This puts Washington State one toke ahead of Colorado, where a new law on recreational marijuana goes into effect next month.

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