Republican-led Legislation to Protect States That Regulate Marijuana Introduced in Congress

Press Release April 11, 2013
Media Contact

<p>Contact: Bill Piper 202-669-6430 or Jasmine Tyler 202-294-8292</p>

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), long-standing opponent of the Department of Justice’s use of federal money to undermine state medical marijuana laws, and other Republicans introduced legislation today exempting law-abiding citizens from federal arrest and prosecution in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.  Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use – and voters in Colorado and Washington passed laws to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol this past November.

“The people have spoken and members of Congress are taking action,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.  “This bill takes conservative principles and applies them to marijuana policy; in terms of the national debate it’s potentially a game-changer.”

The bill was introduced with bipartisan cosponsorship, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-AK), Jared Polis (D-CO), Justin Amash (R-MI), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Regarding this new legislation, Rep. Rohrabacher said, “This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws.  It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”

Earlier this Congress, Reps. Polis (D-CO), Blumenauer (D-OR), Rohrabacher and others introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, H.R. 499, which would end federal marijuana prohibition and set up a federal regulatory process – similar to the one for alcohol – for states that decide to legalize.  Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has said he will hold hearings to examine Colorado and Washington’s new marijuana laws and explore potential federal reforms.

New polling data from Pew shows that a majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana and believe the federal government should not enforce federal laws in states where it is legal.  “We’ve reached a tipping point,” said Jasmine Tyler, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, “and it is time Congress acknowledge what voters, law enforcement, and state officials have been telling us for years: the feds should stop wasting money interfering when the states are more than capable of regulating marijuana effectively.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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