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For Washington state, legal marijuana — and now what?

By Gene Johnson

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6 2012 10:09 p.m. MST

So the Justice Department could likely sue to block the regulatory schemes. But will it? What's better, from the administration's perspective — an ounce of weed legalized with regulation or an ounce of weed legalized with no oversight?

The department has given no hints about its plans.

While pot fans wait for an answer, they are partying. Though Washington's law prohibits smoking in public, about 200 gathered under the Space Needle for a New Year's Eve-style countdown to midnight. A few dozen gathered on a sidewalk outside the north Seattle headquarters of the annual Hempfest celebration and did the same, offering joints to reporters.

"I feel like a kid in a candy store!" shouted Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman. "It's all becoming real now!"

The Seattle Police Department emailed its 1,300 officers, telling them not to write any citations for smoking pot in public until further notice. A voter initiative passed in 2003 made marijuana enforcement the department's lowest priority, and for years officers have looked the other way while thousands light up at Hempfest.

Officers will nevertheless advise people not to smoke in public, police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote on the SPD Blotter. "The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a 'Lord of the Rings' marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to."

He offered a catchy new directive referring to the film "The Big Lebowski," popular with many marijuana fans: "The Dude abides, and says 'take it inside!'"

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