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Federal government's new marijuana policy welcomed by Sonoma County activists

In a sweeping new policy statement prompted by pot legalization votes in Washington and Colorado last fall, the Department of Justice gave the green light to states to adopt tight regulatory schemes to oversee the medical and recreational marijuana industries burgeoning across the country. The memo was greeted with optimism by Sonoma County medical marijuana advocates who said it would provide relief to local officials who feared federal liability for permitting dispensaries and provide a springboard for the next statewide ballot measure to legalize pot for recreational use.

“It’s fantastic,” said Omar Figueroa, a Sebastopol lawyer who has drafted legalization initiatives. “They are deciding that rather than remaining in denial and allowing a Wild West, laissez faire atmosphere, they will encourage ultra-regulated systems. That’s huge.”