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Right-wing critics of President Obama say he wants to increase the size and authority of the federal government, at the expense of the states and the people. If they're honest about their own alleged desire to shrink the government to bathtub size, they now have the opportunity — some would call it an obligation — to say something nice about the president for a change.

The Obama administration announced last week that it would not interfere with state laws legalizing marijuana, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes; Colorado and Washington recently authorized its use for recreation too.

In the past, national administrations, including Obama's, have made state laws legalizing marijuana largely pointless, by prosecuting any activity in violation of federal restrictions. Some federal prosecutors were particularly aggressive. When Asa Hutchinson, now a gubernatorial candidate, was a belligerent federal drug czar under President George W. Bush, nervous types feared he'd use weapons of mass destruction against cancer victims who smoked marijuana to relieve their suffering. It turned out that Hutch, like Saddam Hussein, had no WMDs, or none that could be found.

Now the Obama administration demonstrates a willingness to respect voters who have decided a regulated marijuana market is preferable to a criminal market in their states. (Arkansas voters may join this happy band by approving a medical-marijuana initiative in 2014.)

The feds butting out of state business — why, that makes Obama a truer conservative than many of those who claim conservative credentials. We envision a plaque from the Tea Party.

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