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Why state-legal marijuana dispensaries still get shut down

Pot may be legal in Washington, but until federal law changes, marijuana users and distributors are out of luck.

By Kristin Wong Jul 26, 2013 3:38PM

Washington state may have legalized recreational pot use back in November, but until the federal government decriminalizes marijuana, users and distributers are at the mercy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Some of the marijuana products for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center. (John Chapple/Rex Features) Back in December, President Barack Obama suggested the government has "bigger fish to fry,” when asked about the possibility of the DEA' raiding pot dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal.

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So how big a fish is Bayside Gardens? The dispensary was one of several raided in Washington on Wednesday. Employee Casey Lee said the raid was “humiliating.”

MSN Living: Why I give my 9-year-old pot

In both Washington and Colorado, recreational marijuana use is legal. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. ,have legalized medical marijuana, and five states have pending legislation.

Of course, the DEA follows federal law and has been clear on its stance that the agency will uphold it, saying in a news release:

“The Drug Enforcement Administration's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”

Under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug. This means the government doesn’t recognize any medicinal value in it and classifies it as highly addictive.

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Photo: Some of the marijuana products for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center. (John Chapple/Rex Features)

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