Why is the DEA still bullying Colorado on pot?

Thursday agents from the DEA and the IRS stormed marijuana growers and dispensaries in Colorado, seizing truckloads of plants and edibles just weeks before the state allows the sale of the substance to anyone over the age of 21.

The raid on Colorado this week is perplexing as the Justice Department issued a statement on Colorado and Washington’s pending legalization saying that they would not interfere with the states’ laws as long as regulation was in place to keep pot away from kids and to keep people from driving under the influence.

Then in September the DOJ actually started encouraging major banks to work with marijuana businesses to legitimize them and keep them from having to function as all-cash businesses, which can be dangerous.

The point of Colorado and Washington’s laws is to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana, earning revenue on it like the states do from alcohol and cutting down on the law enforcement costs of punishing the substance.

So why, despite their overtures of “live and let live,” did the DEA suddenly swoop in with a raid right before the law went into effect? Were they just exercising the last of their power before the new law takes effect, which they’d vowed to honor? Or does the department have no intent of actually respecting the states’ rights to legalize pot, and will they routinely be on hand to bust any civilians trying to buy it recreationally once the new laws go into effect?

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration’s overreach in prosecuting pot has seemed downright vindictive. Earlier this year This American Life ran a story about a sheriff in Mendocino County who started a program to register the plants people were growing for medical marijuana, which is legal in his state. The program worked so well other sheriffs started calling the Feds to find out how they could replicate it in their districts. The Feds’ reaction? They swooped into Mendocino, took the registration book, and promptly busted everyone in town.

And this after Obama said he had “bigger fish to fry” than to go around sticking the federal government’s nose in people’s pot.

The voters of Colorado have decided to legalize marijuana, the state government has a plan to regulate it, and they’re taking it seriously—Denver cops are even using futuristic new devices to see if people have been smoking in public. But the federal government, despite insisting that it would respect the states’ laws and not pull rank by sending the DEA in to bust everyone, continues to do just that.

At a certain point, doesn’t this just count as bullying?