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Senate Panel Clears The Air On Marijuana Laws


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  Senate Panel Clears The Air on Marijuana Laws Posted by CN Staff on September 10, 2013 at 14:10:56 PT

By Donna Leinwand, USA Today 

Source: USA Today 


cannabisicon.gif Washington, D.C. -- Federal laws pose "significant obstacles" to regulation of marijuana in states where it is legal and need to be addressed, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Tuesday in a first-ever hearing aimed at reconciling rapidly changing state marijuana laws with a federal prohibition on the drug.

"We must have a smarter approach to marijuana policy," Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. "Marijuana use in this country is nothing new, but the way that individual states are dealing with marijuana continues to evolve."


The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee follows a Justice Department memo outlining how it will enforce federal marijuana prohibitions in two states, Colorado and Washington, that have legalized its use, and 20 states that allow marijuana for medical use.

"The absolute criminalization of personal marijuana use has contributed to our nation's soaring prison population and has disproportionately affected people of color," Leahy said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Colorado has done a poor job so far of preventing marijuana exports to other states where marijuana remains illegal.

"Why has the Justice Department decided to trust Colorado?" Grassley said. "Colorado has become a significant exporter of marijuana."

The Justice Department reserved its right to challenge state laws if public health or safety problems emerge or if the states fail to enact strict regulations to control marijuana use and sale, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, author of the memo, told the Senate panel.

The states' regulations must be "tough in practice, not just on paper," Cole said. "It must include strong enforcement efforts, backed by adequate funding."

The Justice Department said in its Aug. 29 memo to U.S. attorneys nationwide that it would seek only to prosecute people who sell marijuana to minors, use state laws as a cover for drug trafficking or who attempt to distribute marijuana in states where it is not legal.


Complete Article: http://drugsense.org/url/mRBVFTc2

Source: USA Today (US)

Author: Donna Leinwand, USA Today

Published: September 10, 2013

Copyright: 2013 USA Today, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Contact: editor@usatoday.com

Website: http://www.usatoday.com/

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