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Senate Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearings on Marijuana Policy

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #764)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in a statement last Thursday that he intends to hold a hearing seeking information about how the Obama administration plans to respond to the successful marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. Leahy said he expects to hold the hearing when Congress reconvenes early next year.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (
Leahy also released a letter he sent earlier this month to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) asking him what recommendations the agency will make to the Justice Department and how, given the fiscal constraints the administration faces, it intends to use federal resources in light of the legalization votes in Colorado and Washington. The veteran Vermont lawmaker also asked Kerlikowske what assurances the administration can give to state officials responsible for the licensing of marijuana retailers to ensure they will face no criminal penalties for carrying out their duties under those state laws.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee has a significant interest in the effect of these developments on federal drug control policy," Leahy wrote. "Legislative options exist to resolve the differences between federal and state law in this area and end the uncertainty that residents of Colorado and Washington now face. In order to give these options full consideration, the committee needs to understand how the administration intends to respond to the decision of the voters in Colorado and Washington.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter."

The Obama administration has yet to formally respond to the legalization votes, but Attorney General Eric Holder said last Wednesday the Justice Department will announce "relatively soon" where it stands on federal enforcement of the pot laws in the two states.

"There is a tension between federal law and these state laws,” Holder said in response to questions after a speech in Boston. "I would expect the policy pronouncement that we’re going to make will be done relatively soon."

A series of public opinion polls this month have found little public support for federal interference with state marijuana laws in states where it is legal, with majorities calling for the feds to keep out of the way. Support for federal non-interference is strongest among key Obama constituencies, including Democrats, independents, and young voters.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


kickback (not verified)

Federal Law requires uniformity nationwide . Major changes in Federal Law could be around the corner . 2013 .

Fri, 12/14/2012 - 2:31am Permalink
Thinking Clearly (not verified)

Letting the Federal Government continue to play with the issue of marijuana does nothing but continue the drug war and continue the prohibition of marijuana. Legal regulation by individual States is the best and only way to go.

Tell Congress to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and get the Federal Government out of the marijuana business entirely. It does not belong there.

Sat, 12/15/2012 - 7:31pm Permalink
Carl LaRue (not verified)

It is plane to see that the American population has not a clue as to who and why

our drug laws are where they are today. The CIA uses drugs for cash and also

uses drugs to weaken governments.  Afghanistan is a prime example! The Taliban

eradicated all drug production. Today it is the leading producer of both marijuana

and heroin, And who guards the fields? Don't take my word for it!

Thu, 12/20/2012 - 9:44pm Permalink
Sergeant Puff … (not verified)

Ya I smoke regularly. I'm a combat vet recently returned from Afghanistan. Pot helps me with PTSD If I had a dollar for every current servicemember who smokes.... Obama, end this nonsense. Heck, I do my job and I've never once been high while on duty! It helps me and keeps me off of the narcotics the VA pushes down my throat. Many of us use it to cope. Down with Marijuana Prohibition! Signed, Sergeant Puff All Weekend
Fri, 12/28/2012 - 10:53pm Permalink
Jjack (not verified)

Cannabis is a KEY to ALL and every FREEDOM...Let us grow...

Sun, 12/30/2012 - 11:07am Permalink

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