Congressional Hearing on Marijuana Legalization Today

Today at 2:30pm eastern, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold their first ever hearings regarding marijuana legalization and the conflict it creates between state and federal law. The hearing will be held in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216. You can live stream the hearing here.

The hearing was scheduled by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “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.”

In light of the recent Department of Justice memo, NORML believes these hearings can start a dialogue at the federal level that will pave the way for substantial reforms.

“Hopefully these hearings will be just the beginning of what will become a substantive conversation on how the federal government will handle states opting out of federal marijuana prohibition,” said NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “To ensure that the changes detailed in the recent Department of Justice memo are upheld, Congress must act to enshrine into law the ability for states to set their own policy when it comes to marijuana.”

Testifying at today’s hearing are Deputy Attorney General James Cole, King County Sheriff John Urquhart, Chief Legal Counsel to Colorado Governor Hickenlooper Jack Finlaw, and SAM founder Kevin Sabet.

In addition to viewing the hearing live online, please take a moment to contact your elected officials and urge them to support federal legislation to end marijuana prohibition. You can quickly and easily do so through NORML’s Take Action Center here. Check back here on the NORML Blog after the hearing for a summary of the proceedings.

45 thoughts

  1. If the federal gov. decides to step in and push aside the state rights, it will cause an even worse effect of the people feeling that their gov. is not willing to hear the people. Thus in return the fight will be even harder to get those on the fence to realize that they do listen. State rights should be upheld before federal. Every state is unique, let each decide its own fate. They will be known and judged on their own decisions.


  3. So what was said? I didn’t get the news until after the scheduled time… Or was it cancelled due to this Syria madness?

  4. I got a chance to watch it-and I know it’s gonna be the top story tomorrow. basically they were saying that the government has the power to stop the regulations put up by the state; but not the legalization itself-so this hearing was held because all the government could do if they sued is gut the regulations put forth by the states-but they are powerless against the will of the people to legalize. This was epic. I feel this is truly the first step toward federal marijuana regulation. It didn’t matter what the cronies said-the government is going to let this pass-and when seattle’s chief came out for legalization in his state right there in front of it all: epic.

  5. It was refreshing to not see panic from the members of the committee or any hint that these legalization efforts would not go forward as planned. The most telling visual, it seemed to me, was the continuous hand wringing by the elderly woman sitting behind Mr. Sabat as she nodded vigorous agreement to his fearful and overblown concerns. Prohibition is on the way out, and those folks are in a tizzy.

  6. So this is the false flag? I want a real honest debate about reality and the future. Enough already about the draconian days and the will of the corporate government. They only want money. We deserve nothing they give us unless we take it. The game is so apparent we should all be screaming enough children yourtime is over and mytime begins.

  7. I wasn’t able to watch the hearing today. Is a recording or transcript of the hearing available online?

  8. The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

    I can no longer support elected officials or organizations that support current prohibition laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.
    20 million arrested is 20 million reasons why.
    The problem is the law – not the plant.

  9. @Dean you’re right.
    @Jason you’re also right.

    A State may do as such in the example of Colorado and Washington. They may legalize something that is federally illegal. The Federal branch’s authority is higher, but cannot stop State legalization. What they CAN do is try to force a State into submission through cutting federal tax allocations. However, should a State legalize for recreational purposes, they will make quite a bit of revenue from both law enforcement savings, drug testing savings, and cannabis taxation.

  10. So, Just wondering, What happens to NORML when marijuana is legalized? Do they just go away?

    [Editor’s note: After cannabis is legalized NORML and its members can do any number of options:

    Go from being an anti-prohibition non-profit advocacy organization to a ‘Consumers Report’ like non-profit advocacy group that represents the interests of cannabis consumers in state and federal legislatures; test and rate cannabis related products and commerce; maintain history and archive on cannabis use, culture, legislation, commerce and advocacy.

    That NORML gives ‘seals of approval’ for safely grown cannabis, environmentally-friendly and child labor law-friendly paraphernalia or products that enhance personal and public safety (NORML DUID device, commercial leaf trimmer safety certification, etc…)

    Similarly, NORML could become a non-profit archive for all things related to cannabis…in effect, creating and maintaining the ‘American Cannabis Museum’.

    Or, the organization could morph into a trade association group representing wholesale or retail interests in the cannabis industry.

    In either case, there well could be licensed ‘NORML cafes’ or ‘NORML paraphernalia’, NORML-branded cannabis products themselves, etc…as the two most recognizable and enduring brands associated with cannabis in the world are: High Times and NORML]

  11. No one should have to jump through hoops in order to get marijuana . Marijuana should be removed completely from the drug class schedule. Feels like they are just playing games with us. All we want is freedom. We don’t need anything from the government other than freedom to live our life’s .

  12. I thought the hearings went well. Sen Leahy did a good job. There was a good consensus of most members that testified. Sen Grassley and the member from SAM held the prohibitionist flag but were largely irrelevant to the proceedings. I thought that they made progress in getting a commitment to allow banking which is essential to setting up legitimate businesses in Washington and Colorado. I sensed that for the most part those who attended wanted to see marijuana legalization and regulation work in both states. I do think that part of what was discussed would be important in California as well although Melinda Haag doesn’t seem to read the writing on the wall in the same way that others might.

  13. NORML could also turn their energy towards freeing every prisoner in jail or prison for ANY marijuana conviction.

  14. What amazes me is that all of this is over a PLANT. Something that is totally harmless. Society is ass backwards. The most dangerous substances are legal,while the holistic, beneificial medicines are demonized. Don’t think this wasn’t by design.

  15. JUST MAKE IT LEGAL ACCORDING TO AGE ! STOP ALL THESE GAMES! I SUFFER FROM CHRONIC PAIN AND CANCEROUS PRE GROWTHS IN THE INTESTINES. 10 minutes away is New Mexico Medicinal State. Here in TEXAS A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES ! FDA COUNTRY !. Doctors who want $300.00 CASH a visit plus two doctors to approve a permit.

  16. We, legal American citizens have to beg for our rights to smoke marijuana, while they reward illegals for breaking our laws. They were all given driver license today. The republican’s want to take food stamps from the poor legal American, and give hand over fist to the illegals. SICK OF OUR LAWS !!! This country is not for legal Americans citizens. No such thing as freedom for us .

  17. This hearing was the predictable pandering for votes just before election season. The issue does not seem to have gained any traction through the hearing. The DOJ memo is, however, what is making progress possible, with Kentucky and other states moving forward with industrial hemp law implementation instead of just on paper. Same for other states that have MMJ laws only on paper. Other states are gearing up to pass and realize cannabis laws and shops.

    Now, it’s clear the Melinda Haag can call off her witch hunt on Harborside because the DOJ memo mentions sheer size is NOT a reason to investigate and pursue legal action. She claims the larger the operation the more “likely” it is to have something amiss. She should have the proof of suspicion before initiating an investigation target is selected, and not select a target in order to starting digging to find some kind of dirt on them.

    It’s clear that Haag is acting on her own. She no longer has the excuse that she is just following orders and directives from her higher-ups. It’s clear now she is not. Haag, and other like her, need to halt all prosecutions that do not follow the DOJ’s August 29 guidelines, and for cannabis enterprises, financial institutions, armored cars, you name it.

    To make 100% sure, I suggest the Obama Administration use sequestration as the excuse to CUT HER BUDGET so that she has only enough to go after cases that fall within the memo’s guidelines. Anything else needs to be denied funding by her superiors. Prosecutors should have to request funding approval for cases, and cases such as Harborside should NOT get funding approval. Superiors should cancel all funding approval to continue pursuing Harborside, and others like it, so that Haag simply is halted. Period.

  18. It seems like now that the states are having financial issues, they are taking the legalization of marijuana into consideration. It is costing the government more money to put hundreds of individuals in prison over possession of marijuana and in return is leaving our prisons over populated. However, I believe they wont make marijuana 100% legal until they find a way to tax it. The government has to be able to make money on it before making it available to the public.

  19. No one, not even the government should be able to stop me from growing a plant in my own home and smoking that same plant in MY own home.

  20. Has anyone noticed that the states are actively engaged in enforcing laws that promote satanic worship as a state-sponsored religion?

    Government is paying for cult members to receive their merit badges by locking them up with other like-minded martyrs for growing marijuana.

    Meanwhile God-fearing and law-abiding citizens are forbidden to be private by the IRS so they cannot even secretly use marijuana in the form of holy oil as was done for thousands of years.

  21. Jose, actually Jesus broke Moses’ law by sharing the annointing oil with those who needed it for medicine. Moses said any who use this oil or any similar preparation for personal use or to share with anyone are no longer one of the Lord’s people. They are to be kicked out into the wild. Doesn’t seem like much has changed in 2,000 years does it?

  22. This comment is not about above..I could not find a way to make a general comment about NORML’s blogs. Why not consider adding a new blog category dedicated to the business of marijuana? There are plenty of publicly traded MJ and MMJ companies: MJNA, HEMP,PHOT, CBIS to name a few.

  23. Congress has already show the USA that the states actually have control over the legality of marijuana; by allowing the states to decriminalise it but most states still leaving it not totally legal but making it no longer a criminal offence.Just it seems most people have not had the right argument for congress to honor the constitution concering the states having autority over marijuana.
    Example=21 usc 331 prohibited acts. If a person planned on killing a person making it look as a accident by adulterating the persons medicaction pills, or vitamins, with a product that looked as if it could be and accident, but intentionally added high amounts of •Calcium hydroxide,•Bisphenol-A, and or•Irganox 1010 which has been found in the bad production of Megnesium stearate which is used in many pills medications and vitamins, and the Feds Got wind of it but the state said we have decriminalised this 21 usc 331 offence; congress and the federal people would say ; sorry you can not do that.USC STANDS FOR UNITED STATES LAW=FEDERAL=ALL STATES HAVE NO CHOICE>
    One worry they have is driving; they just need to have the people agree to road side mouth cotton swab spit test;if they have probable cause but the currupt Law enforcement; hypocrites will abuse the law as allways as usual. The spit test shows under the influence of marijuana for about 3 days after use,.You put saliva spit in the breath aliser whats the differance ? Go camping and smoke a Fat one.Enjoy the week end and drive home safe.

  24. I don’t understand why marijuana is illegal anyways. It has such positive value, such as its medical value and use as a recreational drug with very mild side effects. Marijuana was used by physicians during the 1800’s, as a general all-purpose medications(Drug use and Abuse edition 6). It is used today in certain states for that very reason. Why so restricted? Its not like it’s a lethal drug, it’s most definitely safer than alcohol. Alcohol is responsible for killing over 75,000 U.S Americans each year, while marijuana is responsible for 1-3 deaths per year. ( But yet alcohol remains legal and highly encouraged in use through the media to our society. But yet America continues to go farther and farther in debt filling our jail ceils with 750,000 individuals a year for marijuana possession cases (, just wasting jail space. Check out this video I watched in class. It ranks 20 drugs to there harm; the results are shocking at first thought.

  25. How I spread the message – every day I receive emails from politicians and organizations asking for support, donations, votes or some sort of action. I simply reply to all with the following :

    I can no longer support elected officials or organizations that support current prohibition laws. I have decided not to support or vote for any politician or organizations that do not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of cannabis by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.

    Over 20 million arrested is 20 million reasons why.

    The problem is the law – not the plant.

    Signed – your name

  26. how can we the people of this country by our so called political elected elites put a sanction upon the God natural growing plants that solve and is the solvent to most of our problems both physical and mentally and bring us happiness and unity to we the people…and the most unique beautiful of this plant is that it grow from the soil into the use of mankind…without and physical chemical component added to it to produce the result we see today

  27. The federal gov needs to legalize across the board other wise us tax paying voting citizens in non legal states are being discriminated against and I would much rather smoke a joint than take morphine and dilaudid as its safer and it’s proven that if leagal it doesn’t impair driving as there is no reason to get paranoid protect my right to choose its not like I want to kill a baby

  28. While I believe that federal reform would be a good thing I guarantee Large corporations are going to continue to drug test and punish their employees. Unless the federal government gets rid of drug testing laws it won’t matter while you may not get arrested you can still lose your job. Now that they can refuse to hire people that use nicotine which is a legal substance any reforms that don’t address drug testing will just be window dressing.


  30. Fake freedom, fake patriatism, fake country ! We are no longer the best freest country we suck today and are falling hard. Now get back to work slaves ! !

  31. Gee, with electorate as pissed off as they are due to a variety of Obama screwups, the liberals hoping to get re-elected better be careful not to rollback weed acces or they might find this to be a clinton-redux govt with repubs in control of congress.

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