Both Washington and Colorado voted to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana this month and the editorial board at the Washington Post is ready to see how that goes.

The paper came out in favor of the measure today and recommended the federal Justice Department step back and let it happen as well:

There is reason for caution about ditching federal pot restrictions. Marijuana can be harmful, and the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that potency levels are higher than ever. The possibly major effects on public health of more driving under the influence of marijuana is a particular concern. If the federal government removed its restrictions, other states would find it easier to follow Colorado and Washington’s path. …

But it’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources. Unwise, because filling prisons with users, each given a criminal stain on his or her record, has long been irrational. For the latter reason, we favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up.