Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Med Marijuana Bill Introduced in U.S. House

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that would limit federal prosecution of those using, selling, or growing marijuana in compliance with state law.

According to Politico,

Blumenauer’s legislation, which has 13 co-sponsors — including GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California — would create a framework for the FDA to eventually legalize medicinal marijuana. It would also block the feds from interfering in any of the 19 states where medical marijuana is legal.

At a press conference outside the Capitol, Blumenauer didn’t attack the Drug Enforcement Administration for targeting marijuana dispensaries or blame the Justice Department for forcing marijuana businesses to operate in a legal gray zone. Instead, he pitched his legislation as a solution to the confusion surrounding federal marijuana policy.

“Frankly, the people in the federal hierarchy are in an impossible position,” Blumenauer said, adding: “It gets the federal government and the Department of Justice out of this never-never land.”
On the heels of successful referendums legalizing marijuana in both Colorado and Washington state, Blumenauer and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition and set up a scheme to tax the drug.

Representatives Polis and Blumenauer have also released a report outlining a strategy for marijuana legalization and taxation.

FAMM has no position on legalization of any drug, including marijuana.  Our job has always been focused solely on repealing mandatory minimum sentences so that the punishment fits the crime and the offender.  

But all this talk about marijuana legalization -- including, now, at the federal level -- begs the question:  are mandatory minimum penalties for marijuana justified at all?  About half of the country thinks marijuana should be legal, yet every year, thousands of federal (and state) offenders still get lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for growing, selling, and/or using the drug.  If Congress isn't ready to legalize the drug, it should seriously consider getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences for it.

Almost two-thirds of those asked in a recent poll feel that the federal government has no business prosecuting marijuana growers, sellers, and users under federal law in states where the drug is legal.  

Staring down the barrel of a sequester, let's ask ourselves:  is prosecuting marijuana offenders under federal law -- with long federal prison sentences, in states where the conduct is legal -- really a good use of government resources?