Wash. effort to legalize pot faces legal pitfalls

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SEATTLE (AP) -- An effort to decriminalize and tax recreational marijuana sales for adults in Washington state has won some high-profile endorsements and its sponsors are well on their way to collecting enough signatures to place the measure before the Legislature.

Supporters say it would boost funding for education and public health, and polls show a slight majority of Washington voters approve.

But Initiative 502 faces serious legal pitfalls.

Not only could the federal agents raid and shut down the state-licensed pot grows and retail stores, they could ask a judge to simply throw out the entire system on the grounds that it conflicts with federal law. And that new tax revenue, conservatively estimated at $215 million a year? The feds can almost certainly just take it.