Congress to Hold Hearings on State and Federal Marijuana Conflict

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has scheduled a hearing to address the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.

“It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal,” Senator Leahy stated, “I believe that these state laws should be respected. At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government.”

The hearing is scheduled for September 10th and both Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole have been invited to testify.

The hearing comes after 20 states have approved of the medical use of marijuana and two states have legalized it for recreational use. The Department of Justice had promised clarification for these states regarding how, or if, the federal government intends to respond, but has thus far failed to provide any clear policy or guidance. It is the hope of Senator Leahy these hearings will address the concerns of these states and provide them a way to move forward with their state approved marijuana laws.

NORML will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

71 thoughts

  1. Whoo hoo! About time the Feds took up the issue. Dialogue may lead to legislation leading to freedom. Sen. Leahy deserves high praise for his efforts to promote change.

  2. Nine months into 2013 the Feds still haven’t specified how they will respond to the differences between state and federal laws. President Obama says he does not approve of legalization at this point but fails to let any of us know why.

    Does anyone out there wonder why the American people so distrust our nation’s leaders? I truly get the impression that they are not just hypocritical liars but are also completely incompetent!

    I’m glad there are at least a few good people out there fighting the stupidity! I applaud your efforts Senator Leahy and continue to wonder what the hell is up with our president. Obama is clearly not the person so many of us thought we were voting for.

  3. You mean to tell me that I have to ask some Washington politician for permission to smoke marijuana? Yeah, and I come from a generation of young people who growing up during the Vietnam war had to deal with adults who acted like spoiled children.

  4. I think the government needs to grow up, they have been acting like babies, not everyone like to drink, not every one can afford to go too the doctor. The government is a twisted mean greedy entity that needs to be shut down every one fired and then restarted. I think if you get elected your have four years to serve. Marijuana has been used before America was ever on the scene but some frigging racist idoit decided marijuana was evil and no one should be able to smoke Marijuana, times have change Mr. Government, your war on drugs is not a war on drugs it is a war on every American who smokes pot or uses anyother drug I dont drugs should be legal just marijuana cause its not a drug its a plant. The constitution say we must raise up against a government that takes away our rights liberties and freedome so i am calling for a march on washington for all pot smokers we will have a east coast hempfest on Pennesylvia Ave right infront of the white house! Right after I finish this bag of doritos’!

  5. Almost an entire year has gone by and not even one word has been spoken in regards o all of this…

    If I were to act like that at my job, I would have been fired the first day…

  6. …oh boy, i cannot wait to see what our federal pukes will have to say…gar-on-tee it will be the SAME bullshit….

  7. I hope that more people will start going back to natural medicines and the government will quit denying people this right. We consume way to many chemically made ‘things’. Let get back to nature! follow my blog @

  8. Hooray! A federal-level conversation about enforcement! I’m curious to see what results come out of this, and how long it will take before the next hearings. Let’s keep this national conversation moving!

  9. Will someone from NORML be testifying as well? It would be nice to have someone on our side at this hearing, if not from NORML then from MPP or DPA or something.

  10. It is about time Congress defines the guidelines for this very Important issue. It is time for Congress to legalize this for all states medically and recreationally.

  11. I believe marijuana should be legalized for recreational use world wide, I’m a 55 yo male and I have been around marijuana for most of my life and yes I have smoked it off and on and if it weren’t for a drug test to get and keep a job I would smoke it daily , Not because I’m addicted to it but because it helps me relax and it’s much better for you than drinking beer, I am now on pain killers for severe nerve damage that causes pain in my feet and legs and recovering from a heart attack that required a triple bypass and other medical problems and I would love to throw these dam pain pills away and smoke a joint when needed.

  12. if congress refuses to change this confict which the federal government has no right nor constitutional power to continue such drug laws within the jurisdiction and venue of the state a repeat of civil war will happen sooner or later as citizen will not tolerate arrest , forfeiture , prison , or any attack we will have a war between the federal and states over there foolish drug war scam Its over do the right thing forget talking to the AG or any police they are servant and serpents who uses the law for employment and grant money money to support there very jobs for get talking to them , if you keep this war going congress men and women you will see dead federal officers I have no plan I can see this happening soon er then later

  13. I read on Cannabis Culture’s site that the idea was floated by Stuart Taylor at a forum at the Brookings Institution last April, “Marijuana Legalization: Are There Alternatives to State-Federal Conflict?” Taylor published a paper on it for Brookings last spring, who points to a provision of the Controlled Substances Act that makes it possible for the government to do without congressional action.

    I then went to the Brookings Institute’s site to read up on it. I ran across that the D.E.A. would have to reclassify cannabis. A federal appeals court denied a petition to make them reclassify it to Schedule III, IV or V in January 2013.

    I must be missing something about the international treaty, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 in the research because it does not mention the Schedule that cannabis is in internationally. The feds would have us believe that this international treaty prevents the executive branch from ordering and the judicial branch, namely the D.E.A. from placing cannabis in any other schedule except for Schedule I.

    Mother Jones magazine reported in a July 2012 by Kevin Drum “[m]arijuana is a Schedule I drug under this treaty, which means it’s flatly, totally forbidden. Countries can decriminalize marijuana use, but no signatory to the treaty can legalize either use or cultivation.”

    You’d think the World’s Policeman, the United States, could tell the Internationals the change the Schedule internationally and it happens or the U.S. could use American Exceptionalism to change the Schedule of cannabis and then the Internationals would have to do it, especially if other countries followed the U.S. lead and rescheduled cannabis in their own countries as well.

    I’ll be surprised if the momentum makes it over to the House. September is just in time to start pandering for votes. The momentum toward further legalization continues. The country is continuing to move toward the legalization end of the cannabis continuum. I’m hoping Leahy can give this thing legs. They’ll have to deal with it sooner or later because there is no sign whatsoever that they’re going to reverse the trend any time soon.

  14. If this were to happen then this would have to be applied to the rest of the world as well.
    What is good for US states is going to be asked for by other nations suffering the devastating effects of the failed war on some drug users.

  15. Here, Senator Leahy, let me help you out while we pay off the defecit:
    Tax and regulate cannabis, end prohibition and the made to fail drug wars.
    Increase foreign investment with green innovation products like hemp solo cups.
    Repair diplomatic relations and trade with Latin American nations.
    Replace the poppy fields with industrial hemp in Afghanistan for export.
    Replace gasoline engines with %100 cellulose ethanol (hemp oil) engines.
    Innovate green technologies with biodegradable cellulose plastic from hemp oil.
    Build durable houses using carbon-trapping hemp-crete and building materials.
    Use the revenue from taxing cannabis for education, medicaid and medicare.
    Zone corn for food in prime farm lands and grow hemp in arid lands for ethanol.
    Repeal the Controlled Substance Act. Create the Cannabis Innovation Act.
    Force the ATF to declare serial number tracking of gun sales to prevent wars.
    Allow the Center for Disease Control to study gun-related deaths to stop wars.
    Require judges to discard forensic science and use credible experts/ reduce jail
    Allow the use of cannabis before contact sports and the Olympics/ increase joy
    Provide hemp as an alternative to corn in poor nations with drought/ end hunger.
    Sit back, light a bowl and watch the undulating waves of hemp bring us peace.
    & watch the money we’re losing at turn backwards & pay defecit.
    Drug Policy Alliance

  16. We need to keep the pressure on these politicians and let them know this isn’t going away. Both of my senators (from Utah) are on the Judiciary Committee and I will continue to lobby them over this issue despite the fact they are among the most conservative senators in the nation.

    In addition to lobbying your senators, please consider signing the White House petition to appoint Dr. Sanjay Gupta as the nation’s new Drug Czar.

  17. They need to reclassify it,
    due to its proven medicinal value,
    and set it as legal for adults.

    They need to enable it to be bought and sold,
    and taxed, fairly, similar to wine/tobacco,
    and legalize it across the nation.

  18. The Federal Government, located near places like Richmond, Virginia where there are large tobacco $igarette corporations, is under constant financial constraint and/or pressure ($igarette tax revenue; Big 2WackGo campaign donations to leaders such as Boehner) to block cannabis legalization– because it will unambiguously legalize ONE-HITTERS and vaporizers which millions (of both cannabis and tobacco users) are now afraid to own for fear of being branded a punishable pot-user.

    When use of these dosage-minimizing control and regulation utensils spreads over into the tobacco-inhalant population (25-mg vape toke instead of 500-mg-per-lightup joint or 700-mg commercial $igarette) the PROFITABLE H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide $igarette format is dead– and Johnny and Barry will have to Bail Out Philip Morris and retrain millions of tobacco farmers and $igarette workers.

  19. Senator Patrick Leahy Thanks so Much for scheduling a hearing. The Feds need to stay away from what the People have Voted for.. If 20 States said it is Legal if you have a Medical Card then it should be LEGAL.. And you shouldnt’ lose your job either..

  20. @TheOracle: Ain’t that the truth? American exceptionalism is, apparently, good enough to invoke when we’re starting illegal wars, committing war crimes, illegally spying on everyone in the freaking world, and installing puppet governments, you know, illegal stuff that enriches wealthy corporate donors, but when it comes to something popular that is actually WANTED by a solid majority of voters and would actually benefit both government AND the vast majority of the country and world–well, then “WAH, we just can’t fly in the face of the rest of the world, what do you think we are, exceptional or something? WAHH!” Who do they think they’re fooling?

    Sometimes I think the only non-bloodshed way we’re going to be able to do this is to push the vast potential commercial opportunities. Not that that will matter much. Rich people, far from being more productive than the rest of us, are actually quite lazy and aren’t going to invest in the future when they can leech off the past with zero effort on their part.

    @massvocals: I certainly hope so! There are just so many violations of our rights that the American people have just complained and pouted about, then obediently dropped their pants and got into line–with many of them eventually supporting it due to terminal sunk-cost mentality. I am hoping this is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Seriously, this should be the final straw. Our government is no longer a representative democratic republic, it’s a corporate feudal state with the vast majority of us being livestock. We have a solid freaking majority in this country supporting both medical marijuana AND full legalization, and for some reason we’re struggling to get any of it passed? The best we seem to be able to do, despite having a vast majority in favor of legalization (AND all unbiased data supporting legalization, on scientific, medical and financial grounds all), is to chip away at these bought-and-paid-for corporate stooges in representative politicians’ clothing.

    The only reason we’re making any progress on medical marijuana is because these jerks’ backs are to the wall now about legalization, so they’re hoping they can give us a weak-sauce compromise and we’ll go back to our beer and chicken wings and football. With the solid majority our side has, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to force this through except that our government no longer represents our will anymore, but the will of rich profiteers.

    If they shoot down what’s right again and reinenforce their dishonest and self-serving federal law, I will be sorely disappointed if we’re not pulling out the freaking guillotines. This isn’t about marijuana anymore. It’s about our representative government no longer representing us, the people, just the 1% of aristocrats and their interests. If that’s not enough to make the average citizen revolt…well, maybe we’re not worthy of the great gift our Founders gave us.

    @Amy: Once MJ is legalized, drug testing will die. About 98% of positive tests are for MJ, so they know they’re sunk once they can’t use those results anymore.

  21. Lc, anyone that is a conservative is not adverse to legalizing marijuana. Fake conservatives that are really fascists hate the idea of legal marijuana as they believe it *might* cut into their profits.

    The whole idea of not allowing people to make decisions for themselves has nothing to do with being a “conservative”. “Conservatives” believe in a limited government. Fascists believe corporations and the government over reach we are currently seeing. Do the math.

  22. Not to start anything but, Most people need to understand Federal Laws trumps State, so I can see why the government is doing this because how as it says State Laws are conflict with Federal on this issue. As for me I wish Federal makes it legal or give out guide lines for less restriction. I don’t smoke or use marijuana

    But, I do ( by looking it up ) that that legal marijuana ain’t going to hurt anyone and it’s silly for it to be illegal.

  23. I wonder if Holder or Cole will even bother to show up.

    If they do or some other underling does, I’d be interested to get some insight on whether any consideration has really been given to the problem at all.

  24. I saw John Kerry on TV talking about Syria’s use of chemical weapons. I drew a parallel in my mind to what he said about that to what our own Govt has done to millions of us. Here is how I use his words in our context.

    There is undeniable evidence that marijuana has medical use. It is a moral obscenity to put good Americans in jail or prison, while stealing their belongings because they chose to use marijuana. Millions of otherwise good law abiding Americans have had their lives ruined because of policies based on lies, racism and greed. How much longer will America’s elite allow these war crimes to continue?

    It is despicable to put someone in prison where they will be beaten, possibly raped, forced to live among real criminals, and more just for choosing to use a substance that was not created by Big Pharma!!!

    The war on marijuana users is America’s great moral obscenity.

  25. Question:

    What happens to NORML if Marijuana becomes legal. Does NORML have a greater interest in the passing of Medical Marijuana “vs” full out legalization. Just a question…


    [Editor’s note: NORML chiefly supports cannabis legalization. After cannabis is legal in the US, NORML has options:

    -It can continue to represent cannabis consumers (as compared to wholesalers and retailers) in way similar to Consumer Reports

    -It can expand to represent commercial interests

    -It can focus legalization efforts internationally

    -Also, it could fold up the tent and end existence once the work of reform is over.]

  26. I’m very pessimistic about this, and would not be surprised at all if a recitation of the Commerce Clause is the only response given by Holder and the DEA.

  27. If Marijuana is not rescheduled before 2016, I will vote for which ever party is in favor of ending the War on Drugs. Now is the time for Democrats to do something or Rand Paul will!

  28. “a time of budget constraints” ; “best use of federal resources” – These phrases indicate that there is already a strong preference towards not wasting money on the prohibition farce any more. As Keith Stroup said at the Seattle HempFest – “the world is watching”

    Can’t wait !!

  29. I used to be frustrated because I could not find any logic in keeping cannabis illegal. Then I put myself in the position of a person making that decision & it made me wonder if it might detrimentally affect the economy if a logical solution was thrust upon such an illogical system. Affected industries would include, pharma, pulp/paper, prisons, cotton & more…all would likely take huge hits to the bottom line, which would mean lots of out of work people. I’m sure that legalization would also create commerce/industry…but would it be enough to balance out? Considering how easy it is to grow, it seems not. I’m curious about others opinion on this because its not something I’ve read anywhere. Maybe I’m being over simplistic & overlooking something obvious so I’d like some opinions. Please be nice though. I’m just a stoner & have done very little research. Peace.

  30. Given the benefits of cannabis, keeping it illegal can be considered a “crime against humanity”.

  31. By some miracle, could this be the final breaking of prohibition?

    We may just have a brave new world ahead of us!

    The 10th can’t possibly arrive soon enough.

  32. @Delta-9: I understand the concern about economy, but it’s not a legitimate argument. Marijuana prohibition has destroyed countless lives, in particular the lives of minorities as it is commonly used as a weapon of racists to jail them, and millions of people have health problems that could be cured or prevented using this substance.

    Let me put it this way: that argument is tantamount to saying to abolitionists circa 1850: “Well, yes, slavery is terrible and inhuman, but consider the trauma to the economy if we free the slaves! All those poor cotton plantations would go out of business, not to mention all those black people who would be entering the paid workforce, crowding out white people! Can we really abolish slavery, considering the potential economic consequences?”

    Not to mention I have little to no sympathy for war profiteers of any sort, but especially the Drug War, going out of business/losing their jobs. They make their fortunes or their living depriving other people of their human rights, through private prisons, drug testing, scam rehab of MJ patients, ensuring as many black people end up in jail and/or with felonies ensuring they can’t vote, and for some reason I’m supposed to care whether they lose their jobs? But yes, I believe it will balance out. The economy will adapt–it has before and it will again. But concerns that it won’t adapt are not a good argument for keeping it illegal, seeing that it is one of the biggest violations of human rights ever. You can’t justify the dire human cost of prohibition by citing hypothetical economic costs–at least, you can’t and still pretend to be a decent human being.

    Not saying you’re not a decent human being, since you seem to be just asking some questions and may not have thought about it before.

    @Dave Evans: Noted, but it’s also important to note that the fascists have taken over the “conservative” party and are calling themselves “conservative” and pushing prohibition as a “conservative” agenda. And “liberal” doesn’t always mean the same thing in different countries or even in historically.

    Playing definition games isn’t going to help us right now. If the people fighting prohibition and civil rights on behalf of a corporate feudal state are overwhelmingly calling themselves “conservatives” in this country, and have hijacked the “conservative” framework to push their agenda, then I’m not going to fret about the proper definition of “conservative” when I fight them.

  33. I am in no way in favor of this two party hegemony we call democracy which is really a republic. BUt i say too all my NEW YORKERS…if you want weed legalized in our city…VOTE JOHN LIU

  34. Some rich people do want cannabis legalized. People whose wealth doesn’t rely on profiting from cannabis prohibition, i.e. not in the business sectors mentioned in comments.

    Has there ever been one whistle blower who exposed how and to which extent the CIA and U.S. government secrecy agencies direct and profit at the sales end of all the marijuana smuggled in from Mexico? In a 2008 article from November 2008 by CNN, “Mexico, Paraguay top pot producers, U.N. report says” that “Mexico produced 7,400 metric tons, while the United States cultivated 4,700 metric tons, the U.N. report said.” The same article also mentions that Paraguay is No. 2 in the world.

    The feds have to be hauling in much more money for covert operations from illegal marijuana sales than they stand to gain in revenue above the radar. Fast ‘N Furious only blew up because of carelessness, someone slipped up in making the traceability impossible. Someone connected all the links.

    This prohibitionist party is over. You’ll have to find other sources of funding for your operations that the American public would Never approve of if it got funding in a visible way through Congress. If the public could watch it being brought up in Congress on C-SPAN, these programs might never get funded.

    The U.S. uses American Exceptionalism to do basically whatever the hell it wants, breaks international rules to start illegal wars–Can you say manufactured evidence? Yellow Cake? Yet, when it comes to rescheduling cannabis, it’s like, oops, love to help ya, but can’t, it’s counter to an international treaty we’re a signatory to.

  35. So Cigs are at 6.99 a pack..So if the feds govt gets that for cannabis Dah Why do I hate our Govt puppets why has it taken so long Holy Shit Its a Plant from God..Hello I will report back when I get my 1st SWWD Smoking Weed While Driving….I bet I wont be speeding lmao

  36. @Paul Armentano- [Editor’s note: NORML chiefly supports cannabis legalization. After cannabis is legal in the US, NORML has options]
    -There will be NO folding of tents for NORML! When legalization comes, battle by battle, we will build homegrown HEMP tents and tell the story to our grand children of how NORML and the cannabis warriors did not surrender to the tyranny and propoganda of corporate dogma and helped free the prisoners and save the soul of the planet! And I wrote my Congressman! (Ok, I did a little more than that…)
    America needs advocacy from groups like NORML and and everyone with SO MANY years of experince to consult commercial interests, foreign nations both industrial and developing that need expert advice. And to continue to fight and educate for cannabis rights so PROHIBITION NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN!
    Legalization and consumer advocacy will require CONSTANT non for profit support for American Democrady to work. Don’t kid yourself Mr. Armentano, The drug wars and cannabis prohibition is the greatest civil rights issue of our time. NORML is NOT going to fold; from here we can only expand. So Thank you for your service, enjoy the ride, but you can forget about retirement.
    Soooo, speaking of education:
    @Delta-9: If you didn’t get to read my earlier post, cannabis legalization is the very premise of “balancing out,” both internally in means of healthy living and externally by way of per capita productivity, through innovation and public patent; For the cannabis patent owned by the U.S. government and the patent of plants in general must be made publically owned. (There, THAT’LL keep you busy NORML!)
    There are so many green innovations to cannabis production from medicine, fuel, building products and food. Domestic agricultural production of cannabis uses less water than corn for ethanol production with no pesticides or fertilizers. What we are really discussing with cannabis regulation is an agricultural revolution returning to self-medication with more self-sustainability in a more socially efficient, healthy localized energy economy. Retooling, such as gasoline engines to ethanol engines is a small price to pay for oil companies that prohibited renewable oil resources from hemp since 1937. In exchange, we receive a happier, healthier society and planet.
    The paradox of modern America is that the powerful industries that make the rules have to break them because industry leaders have to go home and share this planet with all its dwindling resources. Drying out a well is one farmer’s problem. Drying out an aqcuifer is an entire nation’s problem.
    In a nutshell? Texas and Kansas will not be viable for corn production in less than a generation if we don’t cut water consumption for irrigation by %25 starting today. We can do that by growing hemp again. When the oil industry is taking what little precious water we have and using it for fracking down in the Eagle Ford, and climate change droughts out another year’s corn crop for ethanol, it’s really a no-brainer that a water-conserving crop made of %80 cellulose like cannabis can do.
    We may not miss the water until the well runs dry. But the Good Lord knows we reap what we sow. And we have so many, many seeds to sow, America…

  37. It is time for our government to stop this nonsense, and do what the state of Colorado has done. They allow every person in CO to grow 6 plants of marijuana for their own personal use. In my state of WA, only medical patients can grow up to 15 plants of their own.

  38. @Delta-9:
    The same logic could be applied to slavery and Jim Crow. I’m old enough to remember (some) White people in the Old South protesting that eating lunch at the same Woolworth’s counter with “the colored” or “the nigrahs” would “change our way of life”. White South Africans defended Aparthied using the same logic. You hear the same thing today from the same people re. gay rights. (be very wary whenever you hear that phrase). But does the economic and quasi-religious interests of a few members of a society justify the injustice and horrors of the current system?

    Your logic is not incorrect. There will be impacts against certain members of society who profit from the current system. But do these changes warranrt keeping in place the evil, ugly and horrifically unjust system we live with currently? I’d say, “absolutely”.

  39. Delta-9, no it would not hurt our economy. The more things wrong with our economy, the worst it will get. Right now we are paying police to harm and damage our neighbors and ourselves along our families. We are misusing money in some the most outrageously expensive ways possible–the more we stop this waste, the better everything will be for everyone.

    How is our country’s self-flagellation (whipping one’s self) any where near the mean of “efficiency”? All we are doing is making the ground around our feet wet with our own blood.

  40. @Delta-9
    You raise a good point about our fragile economy, however I think one of the most important lessons cannabis/hemp teaches us to go back to our natural roots.

    We need to stop relying on our government, fast food and convenient stores. It’s true that we can’t go back to the way things used to be because of the population, however by integrating micro-farming and community/neighborhood co-ops we can become self sufficient as individuals and as small groups of families helping one another.

    It used to be that families stayed together working as a team. Now, most families split apart at some point because as it became more convenient to travel we’ve become too individualized and selfish.

  41. Thanks for the responses. I like the slavery analogies & I agree with you all completely. I was just trying to look at it from the politicians point of view so it would make a little bit of sense from someone’s angle. I never meant that it was morally correct, as far as I’m concerned there is no moral argument for prohibition.
    There are prisons filled with minor drug offenders but there are entire towns whose economies only survive because the prison is there. I in no way think its right, but it is a fact.
    I suppose that the key word mentioned is “adapt”. The moral decision should be made & society will adapt. Our current population & a more complex system than slavery days ensure that any major change will be even more turbulent than in the past, but evolution is usually turbulent, and I think that the reclassification of cannabis would indeed be an evolutionary leap & lead directly to even more.

  42. Demonhype, we can’t call a spade, a spade?

    We, as a nation, need to kick the fascists out of the Republican party. Or should fascism replace conservatism? You know, conservatives actually care about their neighbors and try to do the right things. Fascists do not believe in anything except their personal profits. They mislead liberals and conservatives alike. They are the ones attacking us day in and out.

    We should follow these weasels’ advice and start calling their nutty ways of doing things “liberal” or “conservative”??? There are fascists in the Democratic party too.

  43. The Federal Government needs to stay out of that situation and let the States decide. It should be sold just like Alcohol. 21 and older only. Laws also can be DUI related issues. It can be Taxed, Regulated for example: Possession of 1-Oz. or less, No fine/penalty. From that point on, Fines for 2nd offense, however the states would charge at that point. I think that it’s time for everyone to realize the benefits of this substance can do to your Health, Economy, Revenue, Taxation and more. I don’t believe there has ever been a death from smoking Marijuana. At this point with 20 States Legalizing it for Medicinal Purposes, 2 Legal States, and more in the run. I think it’s time to realize what is right.

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