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As the Colorado Independent’s Scot Kersgaard reported Friday:
Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced legislation today that would exempt states from federal laws banning the sale, possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by adults. The bill so far is being co-sponsored by Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Mike Coffman as well as a number of other representatives from around the country.
The bill is known as the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act.
It would spell out that any state that passes its own laws governing marijuana and/or medical marijuana would be exempt from certain sections of the Controlled Substances Act.
Colorado and Washington voters last week passed measures that legalize limited possession of marijuana and also legalize retail sales of marijuana. Voters in both states gave marijuana 10-point majorities.
In Colorado, the governor, the attorney general and both U.S. senators say they need guidance from the federal government before deciding how to proceed on implementation of the law.
We’ve been talking for a week now about new legislation from Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver following the passage of Amendment 64 earlier this month, and a similar initiative in Washington state. Amendment 64 legalizes both the possession and, once a regulatory system is in place, retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, leading to DeGette’s bill to amend federal law governing controlled substances and end the conflict created by Amendment 64’s passage.
The addition of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman to sponsorship of the bill, titled the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, is a very significant development, though we still have no way of predicting if this can actually pass Congress and be signed into law by President Barack Obama. We’ve been clear that our natural propensity is to support the will of Colorado voters, and the leadership shown by the Colorado congressional delegation to resolve the conflict created by Amendment 64’s passage is commendable. That said, there is…well, maybe not an objection to be raised, but perhaps a conversation to be had about the precedent being set here. As Rep. DeGette of course knows, there are circumstances where a speedy push to neuter federal law to make way for “states’ rights” might not be so, you know, progressive.
In this case, though, and especially with Coffman’s support as a foe of legalization, there appears to be consensus: honoring voters’ wishes with regard to legalizing marijuana is the right thing to do. A poll follows–does the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act have a shot?