Senate Judiciary Chair Calls for End to Mandatory Minimums

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), the powerful head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for the end of mandatory minimum sentencing at both the state and federal levels in comments made last Wednesday. He also said he hoped the federal government would not spend "a great deal of resources" on enforcing marijuana laws in states where it is legal. 

Sen. Leahy addresses law students at Georgetown University (leahy.senate.gov)
While Leahy said his highest priority in the new Congress that begins next month would be overhauling immigration laws, along with renewing the Violence Against Women Act and taking some action on gun policy, he diverted from his prepared remarks to Georgetown University law students to condemn mandatory minimum sentencing, calling the practice "a great mistake" that harms youth and minorities.

"I think at the federal level and at the state level, get rid of these mandatory minimum sentences. Let judges act as judges and make up their own mind what should be done," he said. "The idea that we protect society by one size fits all, or the idea that we can do this kind of symbolism to make us safer -- it just does not work in the real world."

Leahy, who has previously said he would hold hearings on the federal response to successful marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, did not bring up the topic in his prepared remarks, but did respond to questions from students on the issue. He reiterated that he will seek clarification from the administration on how it will enforce federal marijuana laws there and suggested that he hoped it would not be a high priority.

"My own predilection is, I hate to see a great deal of law enforcement resources spent on things like the possession, use of marijuana when we have murder cases, armed robbery cases, things like that that go unsolved," he said.

Leahy is the longest serving Democrat in Congress. He could have been appointed to the chairmanship of the budget-controlling Senate Appropriations Committee, but instead chose to stay on as head of the Judiciary Committee, where he has the power to call hearings and move legislation on criminal justice issues.

Washington, DC
United States
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Time for the feds to respect the rule of law

If the feds want marijuana to be illegal, they can do it properly with a constitutional amendment like they did for alcohol. It's time to send a message to Congress that they overstepped their authority under the Constitution to wage a war on marijuana.
 

No law required

There isn't even a requirement to pass a law.  The AG can change the classification of marijuana to that of aspirin without congressional debate, approval, or years of debate, filibuster, and smoke and mirrors. 

Why would the AG not continue

Why would the AG not continue to take marching orders from on high...ends up at the White House as far as what the AG does in policy.

What? That's it?

His earlier comments were so much more promising... I had my hopes pinned to this man.  I hope he treats this as a significant issue...

The Site

I like this site but it would be nice if you expanded your share options or at least to do more reporting on YouTube. So your subscribers especially anti drug war bloggers such as myself could spread your good work. 

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Erik,Expanding the share

Erik,

Expanding the share options is definitely on the agenda for our site redesign. Funding is slowing down the process of getting that work done, but it will happen. Thanks for spreading the word in the meanwhile...

- Dave

Legalize federally, no second

Legalize federally, no second taught, release inmates those who used weed's.. they haven't committed serious crime... This will help them. Mary J.

I think that the Senate Chair

I think that the Senate Chair believes that the country is spending a lot to enforce marijuana throughout the country. But the fact is that a lot of money is being skimmed off in the name of this enforcement. is garcinia cambogia a scam

regulate

Well...almost right, but a REALLY good start. The only thing that will set everything right and signal the true end of the war on drugs is when they legalize AND regulate ALL drugs. kamille

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