Time to Talk Federally

0420potdefecit Time to Talk Federally                                               While states have individually been piecing away at nationwide legalization, those representing these liberal-minded states in Congress have also been putting in the man-hours necessary to spark federal legislation. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, along with Jim Morgan of Virginia, Jared Polis of Colorado, Earl Bluemenauer of Oregon, and Sam Farr of California have joined together to seek support from the federal government in developing a method of addressing marijuana policy on a national level. Cohen says of his proposed resolution that “a national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.” Last week, these Congressmen introduced House Resolution 1635 - the National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act of 2013 - which lays out terms for a 13-member committee consisting of ‘weed experts’ who will work together with government aid to review “the state and efficacy of current policies of the Federal Government toward marijuana.” Among other topics, the committee will focus their time on exploring how federal policy should act in conjunction with State law, the cost of prohibiting marijuana versus the potential tax benefits of legalization, the health impacts of marijuana and the role of the current legal system in furthering improper or excessive marijuana prosecution. The committee will also rework the Controlled Substances Act, recommending “appropriate placement of marijuana in the schedule of the [federal] Controlled Substances Act,” in hopes of redefining marijuana from the same classification as heroin. The last time a federal group was enacted to make suggestions regarding the state of marijuana in the country was in 1971, when the National Commission on Marijuana Use - also known as the Shafer Commission- was appointed by former President Nixon to discuss decriminalization of possession cases. The Shafer Commission's recommendations were rejected and since then no other federally created task forces have been created to discuss the issue of national weed legalization. Representative Steve Cohen discussed why he thinks it’s time to talk about legalization on a countrywide scale. “Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of the current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana...This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in the web of incompatible laws.” House Resolution 1635 will join the growing list of marijuana reform bills awaiting a federal ear. Seven other bills are pending presentation to Congress, including House Resolution 499: The Ending of Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2012 and the Respect State Marijuana Law Act. “The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that it is time for a national conversation regarding America’s marijuana policies,” said a representative for NORML, a nationwide legalization advocacy group, “establishing this national commission would be a pragmatic and productive step toward creating a framework for the functional federal policy on marijuana.” While we might not see the likes of this committee any time in the recent future, it stands to reason that as more states independently rage against prohibition, more pressure will be placed on the national government to address these state affairs, and eventually, the entire country will have to have an open conversation about the role marijuana will play in our country's future.
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