Tags: Marijuana Legalization | marijuana | D.C. | drugs

White House Wants States to Handle Marijuana Regulations

By    |   Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 12:56 PM

Despite federal laws against the growing, sale, and possession of marijuana, the Obama administration has taken another step toward treating marijuana policy as a states' rights issue.

The White House opposes Republican legislation sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., which would block Washington, D.C., from using federal funds in its efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, the Huffington Post reported.

After Colorado and Washington voted to allow recreational marijuana usage, Attorney General Eric Holder informed the states that the Department of Justice would allow them to regulate and implement the new bills, providing that the regulations did not allow distribution of marijuana to minors, transfer of marijuana to states where it remains illegal, pot sales money going to criminal gangs, cover for trafficking of other illegal drugs, drugged driving, or the growing or use of pot on federal lands, according to the Post.

However, Harris' amendment, which would stop D.C. "from using its own local funds to carry out locally passed marijuana policies, which again undermines the principles of states' rights and District home rule," raised the ire of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., who called Harris a "tyrant" for interfering in D.C.'s marijuana plans, the Post reported.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray signed a law in March lessening penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, essentially making it akin to a $25 parking violation, and plans to include that proposal in his Financial Services and General Government funding bill, which control's funding for D.C.'s budget and will come before the House Appropriations Committee.

The action is viewed as possibly preparatory to D.C. voters approving recreational marijuana use in the upcoming November elections.

In a memo to attorneys in the United States, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated, "The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests," the Post reported.

The Marijuana Policy Project said the White House fence-straddling was continuing a "failed policy of marijuana prohibition."

Mason Tvert, the project's spokesman, told the El Paso Times, "The plan demonstrates the Obama Administration's position that adults should continue to be punished for using marijuana, despite the president's acknowledgment earlier this year that it is a safer substance than alcohol."

Citing FBI statistics that 750,000 people were arrested in 2012 for marijuana offenses, Tvert noted, "More than 87 percent were for simple possession."

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Despite federal laws against the growing, sale, and possession of marijuana, the Obama administration has taken another step toward treating marijuana policy as a states' rights issue.
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2014-56-15
Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 12:56 PM
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