In contrast with Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire's craven capitulation to federal pressure, Vermont Gov. Pete Shumlin today signed a bill authorizing four dispensaries to supply patients with medical marijuana. Notably, Vermont's House of Representatives approved the bill, by a vote of 99 to 44, after Tristram J. Coffin, the U.S. attorney for Vermont, sent Shumlin and legislative leaders a letter warning that, contrary to reassurances from Attorney General Eric Holder, compliance with state law does not give medical marijuana suppliers any protection from federal prosecution. Gregoire cited a similar letter from U.S. attorneys in her state when she vetoed a bill that would have clarified the rules for growing and distributing medical marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia notes that eight of the 16 states that allow medical use of cannabis now have laws explicitly authorizing dispensaries. The position recently endorsed by the Justice Department suggests that dispensaries in all of these states are vulnerable to DEA raids and federal prosecution, despite promises by Holder and President Obama to respect state law. Are the feds prepared to follow through on their threats, or is it now their turn to back down?