Support Grows For Federal Marijuana Law Change–Can It Pass?

As the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard reported Friday:

Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced legislation today that would exempt states from federal laws banning the sale, possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by adults. The bill so far is being co-sponsored by Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Mike Coffman as well as a number of other representatives from around the country.

The bill is known as the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act.

It would spell out that any state that passes its own laws governing marijuana and/or medical marijuana would be exempt from certain sections of the Controlled Substances Act.

Colorado and Washington voters last week passed measures that legalize limited possession of marijuana and also legalize retail sales of marijuana. Voters in both states gave marijuana 10-point majorities.

In Colorado, the governor, the attorney general and both U.S. senators say they need guidance from the federal government before deciding how to proceed on implementation of the law.

We’ve been talking for a week now about new legislation from Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver following the passage of Amendment 64 earlier this month, and a similar initiative in Washington state. Amendment 64 legalizes both the possession and, once a regulatory system is in place, retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, leading to DeGette’s bill to amend federal law governing controlled substances and end the conflict created by Amendment 64’s passage.

The addition of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman to sponsorship of the bill, titled the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, is a very significant development, though we still have no way of predicting if this can actually pass Congress and be signed into law by President Barack Obama. We’ve been clear that our natural propensity is to support the will of Colorado voters, and the leadership shown by the Colorado congressional delegation to resolve the conflict created by Amendment 64’s passage is commendable. That said, there is…well, maybe not an objection to be raised, but perhaps a conversation to be had about the precedent being set here. As Rep. DeGette of course knows, there are circumstances where a speedy push to neuter federal law to make way for “states’ rights” might not be so, you know, progressive.

In this case, though, and especially with Coffman’s support as a foe of legalization, there appears to be consensus: honoring voters’ wishes with regard to legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. A poll follows–does the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act have a shot?

[poll id=”1510″]

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

    as my Dad would say…the worm has turned. The rise of edible Cannabis will make the old “pothead” stereotype seem quaint in a very few years. I voted yes.

    States who want to be bastions of moral authority will attract those who still believe marijuana is “wrong”, somehow. Other states will get on board with the new Cannabis industry and 10 years from now the majority of states will be allowing possession and regulated sales.


  2. Wefarraws says:

    “The bill is known as the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act.”

    Methinks it is a sad day in hell when our citizens have to introduce a bill to grant what I thought we were already guaranteed.

    What has happened to our ‘free’ country?

    George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry…they would all disown our cowardly, miserable, whining asses.

    Have we really come to this?

    I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense.  I wrote about the escapades that led to my imprisonment…my book:

    Shoulda Robbed a Bank

    I would be honored by your review.

  3. thiokuutoo says:

    Spread the word that Obama is against it and all those screwy Republicans will vote for it.

  4. allyncooper says:

    Romney and other Republicans say that Medicade should be essentially a block grant program and each state figuring out how they wanted to administer it. Romney also defended his Mass. health care plan and dissed Obamacare because he said each state should develop their own plans instead of a federal plan.

    Republican dogma is and has been for a long time that each state is better suited to determine policy on an issue or how a program is administered rather than dictates from the federal government.

    Remember the national 55 mph speed limit? Done away with largely due to Republicans saying the individual states should set their own speed limits.

    Seems to me Republicans should be lining up in droves to support the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act. Kudos to Coffman for doing so and practicing what his party preaches.  

  5. Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

    Agree with FTL that the name’s all wrong.  Heck, how are you supposed to pronounce RSCRA. Sounds like Scooby Doo saying “risky” before asking for a Scooby snack.

    Why not something clever like Welcoming Exemptions Excluding Dope…

    Just Saying…surely DeGette has some staffers who could light up, pull an all-nighter, and come up with a catchier title sure to score a “hit” on the Hill.  

  6. While I think with the billing of the issue as a state vs. federal power, that alone could give many congressmen the shelter they need to defend their vote.  However, it is deader than a skunk on I-70 once it gets to the Senate.  The 60 votes that it will take just isn’t possible.  There are just too many red state Democrats that are up in any given cycle to make this a reality.  In short, only with filibuster reform is there a chance… and I think filibuster reform is a shortsighted solution that doesn’t take into account what happens when you no longer are in the majority.  

  7. CaninesCanines says:

    Final election results released yesterday from Colorado Springs and environs: Amendment 64 won in El Paso County by exactly 10 votes (it had been previously reported that No on 64 had been the victor). Same county: Romney 58%, Obama 38%, more or less.

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