NORRIS: But as we hear from NPR's Carrie Johnson, the Obama administration has been taking a very different view.
CARRIE JOHNSON: Marijuana has been cropping up all over the country, becoming legal for medical use in places like Montana and Colorado, where the drug's so available that it became a target on "Saturday Night Live" this year.
(SOUNDBITE OF "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
M: A doctor in Colorado has converted two trailers into mobile doctors' offices to help dispense medical marijuana to patients in rural areas. Oh wait, you know, I'm sorry, I read that wrong. Some guy in Colorado is selling weed out of a trailer. There you go.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
M: I'm John Walters. I was director of the Office of Drug Control Policy during the Bush administration.
JOHNSON: Walters says the widespread use of marijuana is no laughing matter.
M: It's a dangerous addictive substance. And people are playing games with this and pretending, because they think it's cool sometimes, to not take it seriously.
JOHNSON: That disappoints Ethan Nadelmann.
D: Unfortunately, what the Obama administration seems to be doing is trying to scare precisely those state and local authorities who want to design responsible regulations to make sure all of this is properly under control.
JOHNSON: Nadelmann leads the Drug Policy Alliance, which argues for reform of drug laws.
D: You know a lot of this I think is about the Justice Department sort of firing a shot across the bow and saying: Don't go too far.
JOHNSON: That's fine with John Walters, who worked on the issues for President Bush.
M: Many of these markets are making millions of dollars; they're not non-profits, as they've been declared in other places. They're getting the marijuana from some of the same criminal mafias in Mexico that are killing people daily.
JOHNSON: No one in the U.S. is surprised prosecutors are cracking down on those big networks. But Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance, says he wonders about all the rest.
D: The question is going to be, what happens with the hundreds, and it may now even be in the thousands, of dispensaries that are not operating at that large scale?
JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington.
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