Less than two weeks from now, on Dec. 6, anyone over the age of 21 will be able to light a joint in Washington state and, practically speaking, there's nothing the government can really do to stop that. The same will be true in Colorado within a matter of weeks.
Smoking marijuana there will soon be legal under state law because of the two initiatives -- Initiative 502 in Washington and Amendment 64 in Colorado -- that passed on Election Day with strong support. The push to legalize recreational marijuana was so successful, in fact, that the Colorado amendment received more votes than President Obama did on the Nov. 6 ballot in that state.
Public sentiment, however, doesn't change the fact that marijuana use -- whether it's recreational or medical -- is still very much against federal law. As these two states begin to set up a framework to tax and regulate the drug, they will at some point have to confront the conflict they've created with Washington.
Mr. Obama's Justice Department has yet to say how it plans to respond. The department could take any number of actions -- among its options are filing a lawsuit against the states, taking law enforcement into its own hands, or taking a more hands-off approach.
In the meantime, lawmakers are waking up to the fact that their constituents are clearly calling for some kind of change in the nation's drug laws. A group of congressmen is urging the federal government to leave Washington and Colorado alone for now. Additionally, some lawmakers have filed legislation to amend the Controlled Substances Act.
"It's just a matter of time for the laws to catch up to reality," Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., told CBSNews.com.