When the people of Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana on Election Day, there was immediate speculation as to how the federal government would deal with how it conflicted with federal laws. So far there has not been an official response from the White House or the Department of Justice, and the waters remain as murky as prosecution of medical marijuana has been.
In an attempt to preempt any violation of states’ rights by the feds, a group of Colorado Congressmen formally introduced the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act this past Friday. The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt states where lawmakers or voters have legalized marijuana.
The bill, which was authored by Democrat Congresswoman, Diana DeGette, has bipartisan support.
In a press release Rep. DeGette said “In Colorado we’ve witnessed the aggressive policies of the federal government in their treatment of legal medicinal marijuana providers. My constituents have spoken and I don’t want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens.”
The bill is also supported by Mike Coffman and other Republicans, even though some of them were opposed to marijuana legalization.
“I voted against Amendment 64 and I strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana, but I also have an obligation to respect the will of the voters given the passage of this initiative, and so I feel obligated to support this legislation,” Coffman said in the statement.
This legislation is just part of the chorus of letters to Obama’s justice department demanding that the feds leave the states alone when it comes to marijuana laws.
Reps Barney Frank and Ron Paul sent a letter to Obama encouraging him to respect state laws and to not use federal resources to prosecute pot smokers.
“Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources – these we believe are many strong reasons for you to defer to the state decisions,” Paul and Frank wrote.
Another bipartisan Congressional group wrote a similar letter to Eric Holder at the Department of Justice stating,
The voters of these states chose, by a substantial margin, to forge a new and effective policy with respect to marijuana. The tide of public opinion is changing both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country. We believe that the collective judgment of voters and state lawmakers must be respected.
California Governor Jerry Brown, who opposes marijuana legalization, also said the federal government should respect states’ rights to decide how to regulate marijuana use on CNN’s State of the Union shortly after the election.
“It’s time for the Justice Department to recognize the sovereignty of the states. We are capable of self-government,” he said. “We don’t need some federal gendarme to come and tell us what to do. I believe in comity toward the states, that’s a decent respect”
Although this bill specifically refers to state exemptions where marijuana is concerned, it comes at a time when more states and citizens are attempting to flex their muscles against federal dictates.With White House petitions for secession of all 50 states gaining steam, a clear message is being sent for the feds to back off.