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Senate committee hearings coming on fed cannabis laws

Responding to the historic legalization initiatives passed by Colorado and Washington State voters, US Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Dec. 13, 2012 announced he will hold a hearing on the impact these laws have on federal drug policy. He sent a letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske Dec. 6, asking what assurances the Justice Dept. has for “state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face Federal criminal penalties for carrying out duties assigned to them under state law.”

One idea he proposed was to amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of one ounce of marijuana in states with laws allowing its possession.

Leahy framed his inquiry in the context of how Congress could work on “legislative options” to resolve the conflicts between state and federal law. “In order to give these options full consideration, the Committee needs to understand how the administration intends to respond to the decision of the voters in Colorado and Washington,” he wrote.

Leahy did not announce a specific policy position at his press conference, but expressed that the hearing was meant to explore possible resolutions to “the dissonance between federal and state law.” His spokesperson, David Carle clarified, “That’s one option; there are others that are probably being discussed. That’s what the purpose of the hearing is.”


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