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June 23, 2011 09:50 PM UTC

Polis Co-Sponsors Medical Marijuana Normalization Bill

  • 1 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

We discussed earlier this week the efforts by Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder to clarify the current policy of federal law enforcement regarding medical marijuana. Under Colorado’s Amendment 20 passed in 2000, marijuana is legal to grow and use in this state with a qualifying medical condition, and a memo from the Justice Department in 2009 indicated that the federal government would not prosecute medical marijuana users and distributors who were compliant with state law. More recently, the DOJ has threatened to instead prosecute these cases.

As the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard reports, new legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Polis would permit medical marijuana states to regulate it themselves, ending the uncertainty and the conflict between federal law and that of a growing number of states:

Reached by email, Polis said, “It’s time for the federal government to end the 40-year failure that has been the war on drugs. Colorado has shown that marijuana can and should be regulated at the state level. Instead of wasting money enforcing a prohibition that doesn’t work, we should create jobs, increase local tax revenues, and make our communities safer by de-federalizing marijuana policy and allowing state-approved, legal medical marijuana businesses to continue free of federal interference.”

The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition…

The legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens, [Reps. Barney] Frank and [Ron] Paul said in a press release.

There are currently 16 states including Colorado, as well as the District of Columbia, where medical marijuana is legal–with several more states likely to legalize in the near future. All of them are presently in conflict with federal law, which criminalizes marijuana under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act as having “no currently accepted medical use.”

However you may feel about the use of marijuana, medicinally or otherwise, it’s increasingly possible that a majority of states will decriminalize it–right out from under the federal government’s 1930s-era prohibition. If that were to happen, it would be quite embarrassing for everyone who lives by the words “rule of law.” Congress would either be forced to immediately remedy this via legislation that would look a lot like the bill proposed here, or to preside over a crackdown against the wishes of millions of voters in the states that have legalized.

A poll follows.

How should the conflict between federal and state law regarding marijuana be resolved?

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