The U.S. Attorney's Office has issued a statement regarding the use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado to remind people that possession, selling or growing the substance is still illegal under federal law.
"The Department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," reads the statement released on Dec. 5, the day before possession of less than an ounce of marijuana became legal under Washington state law.
"Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress," the U.S. Attorney's Office statement said.
The statement also reminds members of the public that bringing any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations and courthouses remains a federal crime.
The Washington State Patrol said it may take some time before statistics on the impact of the law are available, and some information will never be known.
"There will be no way to tell how many people troopers might have contacted with less than an ounce of marijuana and who were not arrested," said a patrol spokesperson. "It's fundamental that we don't keep tabs on people engaged in legal conduct."
The Washington State Patrol said it will continue to arrest impaired drivers, regardless of what they are impaired by.
"It has always been a crime to drive while impaired by drugs whether they be illegal, legal or even medically prescribed," said the patrol spokesman. "This new law does not change how troopers will determine impairment at the side of the road."
The Portland Police Bureau also issued a statement to Oregon residents on the change in Washington state law.
"Much like existing fireworks laws, what is legal in Washington is not legal in Oregon," said the bureau. "In other words, if it goes high in the air or gets you high, you should probably use it in the Evergreen State."