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DOJ Won’t Challenge State Pot Laws, But Controlled Status of Marijuana Not Changing

Still, legalization advocates call it a "historic step forward" assuming the administration keeps its word.

by
Bill Straub

Bio

August 31, 2013 - 12:04 am
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“This is a historic step forward,” said Erik Altieri, communications director for NORML, an organization that supports legalization efforts. “Assuming the Department of Justice stays true to their word, these states and others will no doubt move forward with the state-licensed regulation of cannabis for adults. The public has evolved beyond the simplistic, failed policies of cannabis prohibition and are seeking pragmatic, regulatory alternatives. It is encouraging to see that the federal government no longer intends to stand in their way.”

Twenty states and the District of Columbia thus far have adopted laws that permit consumption of cannabis authorized by a doctor’s prescription. Seven of those states, along with the district, also allow the state-licensed cultivation and sale of marijuana to qualified patients. Two states — Colorado and Washington — voted about 10 months ago to permit the licensed commercial production and retail sale of cannabis for non-medical purposes. Both states are expected to begin production and sales early next year.

The Justice Department decision appears to line up with public opinion. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press last April found that a majority of Americans, 52 percent, favor legalizing the use of marijuana while 45 percent say it should not be legalized.

Support for legalizing marijuana has risen 11 points since 2010, according to Pew. The change is even more dramatic since 1969, when a Gallup survey found that just 12 percent favored legalizing marijuana while 84 percent opposed legalization.

The administration’s decision was not universally embraced. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said President Obama and the Justice Department are taking drug enforcement in the wrong direction.

“Time and again we have seen the Obama administration decline to enforce laws that it finds inconvenient or that it simply doesn’t like,” Grassley said. “Today’s announcement is the latest example. The administration is now effectively instructing law enforcement not to prioritize the prosecution of the large-scale distribution and sale of marijuana in certain states. This sends the wrong message to both law enforcement and violators of federal law. Apprehending and prosecuting illegal drug traffickers should always be a priority for the Department of Justice.”

Grassley won’t have to wait long to voice his complaints. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 10 to discuss the conflicts between federal and state authorities over marijuana laws. Cole is expected to be among those called to testify.

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Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

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All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So the DOJ does like States to have their own way (States Rights) when it comes to allowing more people to poison themselves, literally dumbing themselves down and spacing themselves out. (HIP-OCRACY)

But the DOG does not like states to have their own way when it comes to preventing election fraud or prosecuting non-certain-minority people who may or may not have done something harmful to a certain-minority person.

Either we have rule of law, or rule of men. When the minions of the DOG can decide which laws they enforce and will not enforce, that is rule of men: might makes right and the powerful will run roughshod over the powerless.

What was that about birkenstock-booted thugs? "Your papers, please!"... "Far out man, I only use a pipe..."

Freewill is wonderful except when you are so stoned, so frequently, you think that you are perfectly within your rights to keep getting stoned. At which point you no longer have freewill. Weedwill?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To PJ;s credit they have a story on this development. I have looked at all of the other "conservative" media that I am familiar with and have seen nothing about this. The liberal media is full of it. Whether you agree with this approach or not, the ostrich option makes it seem as if the rightosphere is afraid of the story. C'mon guys, applaud it or pan it but say something.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lets states make laws deciding that people ought to show ID before they vote and the Feds will come after you all day. Let the states make laws in direct contravention of Federal drug laws ... and oh, cool, man. Get high all you want.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How about we get high and show our iD's then vote the bastards out. Then go out to the range and murder some targets.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To tanstaafl01: I prefer my brains par boiled but fried sounds tasty as well. Ummmmmm tasty brains.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Marijuana still classified as a schedule1 drug is a joke. All you have to do is read how marijuana/hemp became illegal in this great nation, and you will see how crony capitalist and big government keep intruding into our lives. All this crap about our kids safety is a joke. Big pharma and alcohol is destroying our youth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More importantly, they will cherry pick WHO they choose to enforce laws against.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nothing new here. The Federal Government cherry picks which laws they will enforce and those they will ignore:

Marijuana: Ignore
Immigration/Sanctuary Cities: Ignore
Firearms: Vigorously enforce
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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