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Congress blog

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 28, 2011

    Tell members of Congress that you support HR 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011’ and that you oppose efforts by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) to stifle its debate.

    You can do so by clicking the link below to NORML’s commentary, ‘Let the states decide their own marijuana policies,’ which appears today on TheHill.com’s influential Congress blog and is excerpted below. (The Hill is the paper of record for Washington, DC insiders, members of Congress, and their staff.)

    After you have done so, please also join the thousands of other advocates who have e-mailed their US House Congressional Representative here and urged him or her to support ending federal marijuana prohibition. You can also stay up-to-date regarding the latest political developments surrounding HR 2306 via the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 Facebook page here.

    Let the states decide their own marijuana policies
    via The Hill.com

    [excerpt] Lawmakers for the first time have introduced legislation in Congress to end the federal criminalization of the personal use of marijuana.

    The bipartisan measure — H.R. 2306, the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011’ … prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess personal use amounts of marijuana by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

    Speaking during an online town hall in January, President Obama acknowledged that the subject of legalizing and regulating marijuana was a “legitimate topic for debate.” Yet last week Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, boasted that he would not even consider scheduling the measure for a public hearing. On Friday, when NORML requested its members to contact Rep. Smith’s office, the Congressman promptly shut off his DC office phone and later closed down his Facebook page.

    It’s obvious why marijuana prohibitionists like Rep. Smith will go to such lengths to try and stifle any public discussion of the matter. Over the past 70+ years, the federal criminalization of marijuana has failed to reduce the public’s demand or access to cannabis, and it has imposed enormous fiscal and human costs upon the American people. Further, this policy promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.

    Since 1970, police have arrested over 20 million American citizens for marijuana offenses — nearly 90 percent of which were prosecuted for the personal possession of marijuana, not marijuana trafficking or sale. Yet today federal surveys indicate that the public, including America’s young people, have greater access to marijuana — including stronger varieties of marijuana — than ever before. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to unregulated, criminal entrepreneurs and allow states to enact common sense regulations that seek to govern the adult use of marijuana in a fashion similar to alcohol.

    After 70 years of failure it is time for an alternative approach. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 is an ideal first step.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 15, 2010

    On Friday we informed you that the United States Senate Judiciary would begin confirmation hearings this week on Michele Leonhart, the President’s nominee to direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The hearings are scheduled to begin this Wednesday, November 17.

    As I write today on the website of the Washington, DC politico newspaper The Hill, we must demand that the Senate ask Ms. Leonhart tough questions regarding her past record and her intentions moving forward.

    Obama’s pick to head DEA needs to answer some tough questions
    via The Hill

    [excerpt] Ms. Leonhart’s actions and ambitions are incompatible with state laws, public opinion, and with the policies of this administration. At a minimum, Senators should ask Ms. Leonhart specific questions regarding her past record and her intentions moving forward. These questions ought to include:

    * What are your plans for bridging the growing divide between state and federal law concerning the use of marijuana for medical purposes?

    * How has the DEA changed its policies and practices to ensure compliance with the 2009 Department of Justice memo calling on federal law enforcement to no longer target individuals who are in compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states?

    * When will the DEA respond to a 2002 petition to hold hearings on the rescheduling of marijuana, as were called for by the American Medical Association?

    Failure of the Senate to engage in a probing dialogue with Ms. Leonhart regarding these matters will continue to give the appearance that Congress and this administration are willing to place politics above science. This administration has specifically pledged to end this practice. It can begin doing so by demanding careful consideration be given to Michele Leonhart’s nomination.

    The Hill is the paper of record on Capitol Hill, so please click here to read my entire commentary and leave respectful feedback. Then please contact your U.S. Senator directly. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your member of the U.S. Senate when you click here. You can also call your U.S. Senate office and leave a short message by going here.