Federal Measure Introduced to Form National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy

Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced federal legislation that would establish a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The proposed commission, inspired by the 1971 Shafer Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, would be tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of how federal policy should interact with state laws that make marijuana legal for medicinal and personal use, the cost of our current marijuana prohibition and potential revenue from marijuana regulation and taxation, the impact of federal banking and tax laws on marijuana related businesses, the health benefits of risk of marijuana use, the public safety and criminal justice implications of marijuana prohibition compared with regulation, and the effects of marijuana prohibition and potential regulation on our international relationships and treaties.

“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”

Representative Steve Cohen is joined by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenhauer (D-OR), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).

During an interview with Barbara Walters in December of 2012, President Obama stated, “…what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske stated in January of this year that, “Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”

“The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that a national conversation is needed when it comes to our country’s marijuana policies, but so far that conversation has been largely one sided,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “It is time for federal lawmakers to listen to the voice of the majority of Americans who want to see change to our nation’s marijuana laws and for them to take part in that dialogue. NORML is pleased to have worked with Representative Cohen and his staff on this important legislation that would provide a public and professional venue for that conversation to take place. A majority of Americans agree that it is time for the United States to end it’s fruitless and expensive war on cannabis consumers and pursue policies of regulation and taxation. Enjoining this national commission would be a pragmatic and productive step towards assessing the true costs of our current prohibition and creating a framework for a functional federal policy on marijuana.”

Join NORML and federal legislators in calling for a “serious national conversation” on regulating marijuana.

Click here to quickly and easily contact your Representative and urge him or her to support this legislation.

26 thoughts

  1. Think about it.

    Stop wasting resources and peoples lives and time.

    Stop funneling money into the hands of the enemy.

    Start accepting payment of a legitimate right and the enterprises making profit on it.

    Embrace legalization.

    Prohibition failed on all fronts.
    It failed alcohol.
    It failed cannabis.
    It has even failed other drugs,
    (which, while I am not in favor of-
    prohibition still gains us NOTHING)
    It has also failed regarding firearms and weapons.

    Laws do not stop crime=
    laws create crimes.

    Nothing should be a crime which does not hurt another.


    Thanks team NORML.

    Let’s do this.

  2. The bill text isn’t online yet. If enacted this session, at what point in time would the commission have to report its findings?

  3. I just wanted to express my disagreement with the statement made in the image at the top of this article (http://assets.blog.norml.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Screen-shot-2011-10-17-at-2.57.26-PM.png). Under current law in Michigan, I’m already taxed by the state to the tune of $100 annually for my medical marijuana registry card. There are taxes on the electricity and other utility expenses that I incur in the process of growing for personal use. Over the course of America’s history we’ve gone from being able to pay taxes with cannabis to being licensed and taxed for the privilege of growing it, and you see nothing wrong with this picture? Aren’t we taxed, fined, imprisoned, and persecuted enough already?

  4. This is great news! It could speed things up a lot for D.C. and the rest of the country. D.C. won’t have to wait for their ballot initiative to pass, then have to worry about the next Bob Barr if this progresses. If it stagnates, nothing changes.

    I contacted my representative, but unfortunately Joe Pitts, Republican from Pennsylvania, is exactly as his name portrays him. He’s the pits, a dick with ears and an asswipe who’ll never ever vote for anything pro-cannabis, unless somehow cannabis money contributes big-time to him or a bunch of his major backers. This is tobacco country, and Pennsylvania is thinking about raising tobacco taxes (again) because of its budget woes, and the farmers are looking for something else to plant to take the place of the expected reduction in tobacco demand. Someone from Penn State did a study on cannabis cultivation in Pennsylvania years ago but then the tobacco companies gave the farmers new varieties of tobacco, including organic, that would net them more income. They played that card. Now what, Joe? You know the young Amish like that “Green Corn.”

    I hope this legislation gets feet and goes somewhere. The sooner cannabis is legalized the better.

  5. I’m glad to hear there are people with a loud voice going up to bat for us. However from recent comments made by Holder and drug czar Gil it sounds like they are working on letting us down easy so there is not an uprising when that big federal boot comes stomping down on the will of the people.

  6. @ BobKat,

    Hey brother, there’s that Shafer Commission you were talking about.

    PS–hope you saw my last post to you before the heading changed. It’s always cool.

  7. @Mark Kelderman

    “Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski also said he doesn’t believe that Colorado and Washington are indicative of public opinion, among other questionable comments.”

    Remember when we NORML fans were always in denial? Drug Czar Gil is in denial.

  8. Hurrah for Rep. Cohen! How ’bout u focus on TN now? We need to ‘volunteer’ to be the first state to legalize from the Southeast! The nation’s mind re: weed is favorably inclined just like it was for alcohol prohibition. States must continue to pass their own statutes re: weed. That is how the battle must proceed. The government only knows to quit when enough states rebel individually. Big money can only fight legalization on a broad scale. That’s why the small hempfest works so well. C’mon HempfestNashville!!!! Let’s make ’13 the year Tennessee says “Legalize We Cann”!!!!

  9. I aggree, this seems to be another HUGE waste
    of tax payor dollars for another Fed. Enitiy WE DON’T NEED.

  10. All and good but keep in mind that the Feds don’t care about what you want. They’re only conserned about maintaining power and control. When they are faced with facts. They usually bring out the bag of tricks. They did it before and they will do it again.

  11. This commission review provides another opportunity to add something positive to the scale: let’s get credit for building Safety, Regulation and Control into the equipment (devices) for administering the herb, by suggesting that all SALES of herb (especially including “recreational”, or in many cases of earnest productive persons, occupational) REQUIRE that the purchaser exhibit a Dosage Miniaturization Utensil, i.e. one-hitter with a narrow screened crater providing 25-mg. single-toke servings, or Vaporizer, Portable Vaporizer etc. miniaturizing or nullifying the dosage of Carbon Monoxide and other combustion toxins.

    The Commission should also design and print and distribute for worldwide use (but especially for legal purposes in US) a LEAFLET OR TRACT titled, “How to Vaporize with a One-hitter” or the like.

    The Policy should be to make sure the public understands that there is nothing inspirational or creative about inhaling carbon monoxide and other toxins that contribute only dopy “stoner” symptoms traditionally blamed on the cannabis; this will remove the bulk of hazard from cannabis use, including prior to driving or for minors.

    This will show serious intent to eliminate the 500-mg-per-lightup Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide joint (along with its “commercial” relative the tobacco $igarette, no. 1 killer on the planet of both trees and persons).

  12. This bill will face more opposition than the States Rights Act for Marijuana. Research where drug enforcement money has been spent and really went? There are plenty of Congressman who will want this comission to go away. The beautiful thing is it won’t. Because I just donated to NORMAL. And so did more than 420,000 other members and growing. And out of the darkness there must be light.
    When the Shaffer Comission was finished 1 million dollars was spent on thorough research that determined marijuana was non-violent and did not need to be scheduled with more dangerous drugs. Since then, every year, The Controlled Substance Act has been amended to spend millions of dollars a year to maintain U.S. policy does not recognize marijuana as medicine. Michelle Leonhart, director of the DEA testified before Congress that marijuana is not medicine last year. One must wonder, in the face of SO MUCH evidence to the contrary, how is it possible that Congress can refuse evidence of marijuana’s medicinal capacity on a daily basis?
    This Congress may not vote on this comission. But the American people will vote on them in 2014. Prepare for a campaign where pro-marijuana Congressman win and drug-war cronies lose. Prepare for a 2014 Congressional race where American voters finally tie America’s marijuana policies to the gun lobby and the platform for a successful campaign will be for Congressman who vote to change our made to fail drug war policies.

  13. I agree with the comment that Nixon buried the previous commission reports. I wouldn’t expect fairness from this administration either.

    Is it possible that Norml could work with the United Nations to get a global demand for legalization going? Then the Feds may feel a need to listen? U.S. policies are currently a war on the environment. Hemp is desperately needed to replace toxic industries.

  14. Please sign the new White House petition and ask for an independent assessment of marijuana’s “danger” by the Institute of Medicine. The White House does nothing, hiding behind a “it is a dangerous drug” statement. Marijuana is currently misclassified as a Schedule I drug, the same as heroin. An honest scientific review will show that it is less dangerous than morphine – which will be enough to make it legal for prescription, and undermine all the laws which are based on its Schedule I classification.

    Here are links to the petition:

    or: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/base-classification-medical-marijuana-science/P7PQ8wJ1


  15. P.S. Also, please send the links to your friends, tweet them, and post it on Facebook!

  16. I’m not sure what the point might be? They are just going to say, like everyone else that knows what they are talking about, that marijuana should be legal. What is there to “study”??? Is this just another way to waste more money?

  17. @ Dale,
    We do need a government study. Even if the feds reject it. We need dollar signs, numbers and math to pass a bill, not just American votes. The only vote we have with this Congress is to give them a marijuana voting test and vote them in or out in 2014.
    The Supreme Court ruling over small posessions not being enough to deport immigrants shows where this battle will end up if Congress doesn’t compromise soon.

  18. Ive read many white house petitions to legalize marijuana. But none seem to get to the root of the problem; That we even allow an executive agency, the DEA, to legislate marijuana law in the first place. Please help me with my first and only white house petition. Here is a link:
    Its rediculous that we allow cops to write law in thr first place. It’s no wonder the Controlled Substance Act has amendments like asset forfeiture and finances to deny marijuana is medicine so that the DEA budget is so fat that cops are permited to write law without Congressional oversight.
    Lets end the made-to-fail Drug Wars. Theres a reason we have three branches of government. lets keep it that way.

  19. Julian, that is my point. Most everyone who has worked as a police officer, doctor, and other areas where they get to interact with the public already knows Marijuana is harmless to our society. We going to have a study to confirm the sky is blue as well?

    The problem is crackers do not want other people to get ahead. They are cutting off our noses to spite their faces. We have been “studying” this shit for seventy years. I’m done “studying” the issue. Start arresting these pieces of shit already.

  20. Study the War on Drugs and how to make it actually work. We have already studied marijuana to death and all we need to do is remove it from any and all drug schedules–the studies have already been done. Fifty years ago people already knew marijuana is not a narcotic. It already is black and white for Marijuana and “how it should be handled going forward”. We use facts in the United States of America not conjecture and damaged ideologies to tell who and what is causing crime.

    The War on Marijuana is pure corruption because marijuana isn’t a drug; it is just “marijuana” more of a un-drug. The War on Drugs is worthless because it militarized(!!! Why???) and they don’t bother addressing why people would rather erase their minds than deal with their issues and alcohol should be included. Oh and get rid of the scheduling system and make a new system that uses facts people can actually measure. How is alcohol or tobacco not on schedule one??? Oh yeah, they are full of shit and their schedule is worthless.

  21. maybe there should be protests around the country one day or weekend or month?these politicians wont listen to anything unless people stand up and voice their opinion.i bet if people petitioned to make alcohol illegal they would listen.

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