While it remains uncertain whether newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to unleash the hounds on the high times currently being enjoyed in legal marijuana states, one federal lawmaker is doing his part to ensure the Trump administration has no control over any jurisdiction that has legalized marijuana in their neck of the woods.
On Tuesday, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California submitted a piece of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at preventing the federal government from cracking down on states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. The bill, which is aptly entitled the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017,” would provide the cannabis community with immunity from federal prosecution as long as they remain in compliance with state law.
Although the bill (H.R. 975) would not force Congress to end prohibition in a manner that would allow pot to be taxed and regulated nationwide similar to beer, it would amend the Controlled Substances Act in such a way that state legalization could carry on without the threat of federal interference.
That means as long as marijuana consumers and their respective marketplaces adhere to the laws outlined by the state, this measure would ensure Sessions and his cronies over at the DEA have no power to conduct raids or any other pesky shakedown tactics. But for those states that still consider marijuana an illegal drug, nothing would change.
“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue,” Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “It is time to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and give states the authority to determine their own policies.
“Federal tax dollars should not be wasted on arresting and prosecuting people who are following their state and local laws,” he added.
Similar legislation has been introduced over the past couple of years, but those bills never even received a hearing. There is hope that with all of the controversy surrounding Sessions and the potential dismantling of the legal cannabis trade that Congress will get serious about listening to the issue of national marijuana reform in the 2017 session.
After all, eight states have legalized the leaf for recreational purposes, with over half the nation having some form of a medical marijuana program in place. However, since the cannabis plant remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government, there is nothing solid on the books to prevent the Trump administration from closing it all down.
Rohrabacher believes that with all of the progress that has transpired over the past couple of decades with respect to this issue, Uncle Sam should now be prepared to throw in the towel and end the war on weed.
“I happen to believe that the federal government shouldn’t be locking up anyone for making a decision of what he or she should privately consume, whether that person is rich or poor, and we should never be giving people the excuse, especially federal authorities, that they have a right to stop people or intrude into their lives in order to prevent them and prevent others from smoking a weed, consuming something they personally want to consume,” Rohrabacher said.
As it stands, there is now more support for marijuana legalization in the United States than ever before. The latest Gallup poll shows more than 60 percent of the population now believes pot should be legalized nationwide under the same rules as alcoholic beverages.
It has been said that once public opinion on the marijuana issue consistently resides somewhere between 60 and 65 percent, Congress will have no choice but to take some form of action.