Senate Judiciary Committee to Take Up Legalization Next Year

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Pat Leahy
Huge news this morning: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has sent a letter to the drug czar about the Washington and Colorado initiatives, Benjy Sarlin at Talking Points Memo noted today:

Leahy wants information:

How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize Federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana? What assurance can and will the administration give to state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face Federal criminal penalties for carrying out duties assigned to them under state law?
 

But it's even bigger than that. Leahy is planning committee hearings on marijuana legalization, to include consideration of legislative options, including "amend[ing] the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law."

I am wondering just how huge this may be. Leahy has good views, but he's also a careful senator who would not care to be at odds with his fellow Democratic committee members or the president. He's also a former prosecutor who dislikes uncertainty or disorder in the law and its implementation.

On the other side of the aisle are Tea Party and other Republicans who may or may not like legalization, mostly don't want to say so if they do, but have campaigned on states' rights. One Colorado Republican, Mike Coffman, has cosponsored a recent bill to allow for state marijuana legalization, despite having voted against the Colorado initiative himself. Word is that at least a couple more Republicans are likely ready to join the group. And recent polls have found that more Americans favor letting states decide about legalization than even support legalization. Micah Cohen at the FiveThirtyEight blog noted the CBS poll found 49% of people who oppose legalization favor letting states decide.

In any case things are further along in Congress than before. The Frank-Paul bill to end federal marijuana prohibition, H.R. 2306, got a few Republicans, but the hard-line House Judiciary chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) would not allow hearings. (Smith was the only member of Congress to oppose crack sentencing reform -- our Judiciary Committee chair!) Incoming chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is said to be reasonable on some issues, but not particularly positive on ours. Still, given what happened last month and what is happening now, it may just look a little too bad for Goodlatte to disallow even hearings, as Republicans struggle to redefine their profile in the wake of a tough election for them.

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The Wrong Person

Why is he writing to the Drug Czar?  The Czar does not make policy or in any way influence it.  He's just the spokesperson/cheerleader for federal drug policy.  It would be like sending your complaint about McDonald's burgers to Ronald McDonald.

Republicans/conservatives: Show us your true colors

It's time to see if those Republicans, and conservatives in general, really believe in the gospel they preach.  States rights?  Less expansive federal government?  More civil liberties with individual responsibility/accountability?  None of these core beliefs align with forbidding citizens from taking any substance they want.  Dictating what a citizen can and cannot put in their own body is a grave intrusion into civil liberty.  If anything, alcohol has proven to us that mind altering substances can be used safely and responsibly.  What do you hear in all the beer commercials?  "Enjoy responsibly!"

We certainly have the technology to develop tests to determine marijuana intoxication for those who make the mistake of driving while under its influence.  We only lack the tech now because we've thus far lacked the research to develop it.  I'm confident a reliable "breathalyzer" for weed could be developed if people were just allowed to do some darn unrestricted research on marijuana.

Really, in light of a vastly diverse array of pollsters all saying the same thing, Americans simply want legal weed.  At the very least, leave it up to individual states.  Let the more liberal states who want it, have it.  And even individual counties and cities in those states can still bar it through local law the way some do in the medical marijuana states.

It's time to stop enforcing an ancient policy that was based on lies.  Marijuana prohibition trivializes the government and our laws for crying out loud!  Wake up!  Hop on board now, congress, or be remembered by the history books as the last of the ignorant generation who held out to the bitter end, then gave way to younger, more sensible politicians that followed in your wake!

Common sense.

Uncle Bob says:  "Republicans/conservatives: show us your true colors"

Well, I am a moderate tilting towards the conservative side.  I believe in the Second Amendment, tighter immigration, reduced welfare roles and other conservative viewpoints. 

BUT trampling on folks liberty and personal rights with heavy DEA jackboots in an effort to stamp out a common weed is moronic.  

It simply makes no sense to turn people into criminals and ruin lives simply because of a person's choice in recreation or medical treatment.  Besides, a useless war on this weed cost tax dollars most of us would rather see used elsewhere for more worthy causes, not thrown down a failed government rat hole.  Many on both sides of the aisle agree.

There are many advantages to legalization of cannabis and its sister, industrial hemp.  So many and so well known, in fact, that trotting them all out here would be preaching to the choir.  

But I'll go out on a limb and say it's time we pull the teeth of the big medical companies and the synthetic textile and petroleum industries and develop  natural, more environmentally sound alternatives to opiates and nylon and tree pulp paper and irreplaceable fossil fuels and many other wasteful and downright toxic products.  All it takes is a little innovation and common sense.

However, the uphill battle towards legalization is NOT entirely on the shoulders of conservatives, no matter how much misty eyed liberals would like to think so.  

When we have a POTUS who admits to being a former heavy recreational smoker, (can you say "CHOOM"?) and a bunch of aging hippie liberal douches in Congress who probably baked themselves stupid in college yet in spite of having the power and means to change things for the better are still too gutless to come down on the side of sanity on this issue, it's vexing.

There.  Colors bright enough for you, Uncle Bob?

Schedule I of the CSA

The next step for marijuana legalization is to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (an objectively silly classification, if you believe science). Until that happens, we'll continue to have conflicts with the Feds. Join the conversation: http://weedist.com

Moot Point

Schedule 1 classification may be moot by the time they hold hearings. See the court proceedings, Oct 16 regarding a challenge to MMJ having no medical value, etc. at http://reason.com/blog/2012/10/16/federal-appeals-court-hears-challenge-tos.  

It is untenable for the feds to classify MMJ as a schedule 1 "narcotic" when there is no science to justify it. Remove the classification to schedule 2 or below and it can be prescribed by your doctor and the prescription filled at the pharmacy, like oxycodin or Marinol (pure THC capsule Schedule 3).

Pres. Obama has his political cover with rescheduling, we have our medicine and the prohibitionist will get their "pound of flesh" for unauthorized diversion.

Not Really a Moot Point

The court proceedings that Damon mentioned are about forcing the DEA to hold serious rescheduling hearings using current information about the medical uses of cannabis. The court's ruling is probably months down the road, and who knows how long after that the DEA would hold the hearings IF the court rules in favor of the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis and Americans for Safe Access, who filed the case. The DEA took about 9 years to respond to CRC's petition for rescheduling, which was filed in 2002, and then denied it.You can read the gory details at http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=6440

Rescheduling would be a very positive step for states with medical cannabis laws, as it would give the feds the leeway to back off from busting dispensaries, etc, although it wouldn't require them to do that. But rescheduling - versus full legalization - could almost complicate things as much as it helps. Keeping it as a scheduled substance that has to be prescribed by a doctor gives the feds justification to block state legalization for recreational use. Tobacco and alcohol are not on the CSA at all, and are regulated under totally different federal laws. This is where we need to get with cannabis as soon as possible. Senator Leahy's hearings will probably not come close to accomplishing federal legalization, but they will at least keep the issue on everyone's radar and raise the level of discussion. Hopefully DRCNet will keep a scorecard of who is pro- and con- during the hearings, it would provide a scorecard to decide who to vote for in the next election.

DEA won't reschedule, only Congress will

Asking the DEA to reschedule Marijuana is a joke.  They aren't going to reschedule it (can they, even?)... since like 60% of their operations and funding goes towards marijuana busts... Once weed is legal, they'd be able to easily cut the DEA in half, RIF all the "drug warriors" and reduce our budget all the more that way.  So yeah, considering many DEA employees would probably stand to lose their job once weed laws are relaxed, you can bet THEY sure as hell won't be the ones to relax it.

THE BITCH's picture

EMAIL AND CALL YOUR SENATORS/STATE REPS

If you organize 5 of your friends to make scheduled calls every day, and email once a week, you can get your local State reps and your State Senators working toward this issue now, so that when they reconvene again in Jan. they realize they have constituents who are in support and want representation in these hearings.  It can only help if we all use our collective bargaining to pressure them relentlessly.  Make them know we are going to start voting them out and electing politicians who WILL do the jobs we pay them for.

DdC's picture

But would they lie about Ganja?

including "amend[ing] the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law."

I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air.

Feds have already set a precedent on reasonable amounts. Why would Leahy bait and switch to an impossible amount to grow? How does one even grow an ounce or less? One might also ask why Biden lied three times and then switched test drugs to pass the bogus RAVE Act? It is more than obvious that Nixon lied to schedule Ganja #1, that should be the end of the story and the CSA overturned. Now we know from released documents that
Nixon committed Treason.  Special Report: Definitive proof of a historical mystery is often elusive, even with archival documents and memoirs. Skeptics can always say some witness or some evidence isn’t perfect. But the case that Richard Nixon sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks in 1968 to win that pivotal election is clear. From past tapes and his rejection of his own Commission results. There is more than enough evidence to remove Cannabis, Ganja and Hemp as a schedule#1 narcotic. Leahy was a prosecutor and knows full well what he is doing.

But would they lie about Ganja?

Is The DEA Legalizing THC?
 if a pharmaceutical product contains THC extracted from the marijuana plant, that would be a legal commodity. But if you or I possessed THC extracted from the marijuana plant, that would remain an illegal commodity.

Wait, it gets even more absurd?

Since the cannabis plant itself will remain illegal under federal law, then from whom precisely could Big Pharma legally obtain their soon-to-be legal THC extracts? There’s only one answer: The federal government’s lone legally licensed marijuana cultivator, The University of Mississippi at Oxford, which already has the licensing agreements with the pharmaceutical industry in hand.

Con Flicts of Interest Bush Barthwell & Drugs

Feds rule states and commerce, States rule individuals.

Drug Czar is Required by Law to Lie

Why Do YOU Think They Call it DOPE?

Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much

image

Still for those wanting the money regardless of the citizens. Continue to enact restrictions on themselves for individuals. As it stands there is only one state permitting recreational use and that is CA under Prop 215. Note: Compassionate Use Act not the MMJ Act Anyone for any reason and the amount is already determined by the Feds. Nothing is written in the law about selling it and since Raich the only way to sell or give it away in charities is to remove it from the bogus CSA, Don't be fooled by Leahy's new legislation that would lower the Feds standards to an ounce or less. How the hell do you grow an ounce or less? But that seems too much strain on the fascist corporations to allow. As it stands the Feds have patents on cannabinoids and a place to grow it. GW's sativex sublingual spray is already on the market and could be in the US whenever they want it. Keeping Hemp and Ganja outlawed, to sell. The personal use would still be legal for individuals as it is now in states with laws on the books or without laws against it. But only under state guidelines. MMJ states have to follow the hoops and barriers they provide. Under the protection of the 10th amendment granting states jurisdiction over all things not designated to the Feds under the Constitution, or Commerce Clause. So Feds rule states and interstate commerce and states rule individuals. Most of the arrests are by states and these appeasement's and appeasers are only perpetuating this for profit police action known as the ganjawar.

image
 

appeasement?

including "amend[ing] the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law." 

"I seem to smell the stench of appeasement in the air."  

This would only be appeasement if it was the last word, and no further progress is made in freeing the weed. I can't see that happening. I think there's a very good chance it's going to become crystal clear within a few years that a legal playing field between weed and booze reduces violence, both alcohol related and prohibition related, and that will make the opponents of weed into a more feeble group than they already are. The war against weed won't be over until the political prisoners are free and we're free to gather in public the same way alcohol loving folks can.

"" This would only be appeasement if this iT

DdC's picture

Appeasing Nixon's Liars

GOP inconsistent on state rights

The GOP and half of tea party are all for states rights until the issue is marijuana and then their brains become numbed by Lipitor or other statins and they are unable to realize their double standard.

Democrats inconsistant on Constitutional rights...

Sort of like the Democrats and 2nd Amendment, right?  Americans should be free and equal!  .....Unless it's something you're afraid of.  Then it's "screw liberty, let's ban that which we fear and demonize anybody who disagrees!"  Hypocrites.

 

When it comes to hemp and cannabis, more GOP members agree with you than you think.

Gop Inconsistent?

Ye I agree with you in this case for their standard

good luck getting a legalization bill past lamar smith...

 n/s...

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