U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D) of Oregon held a townhall meeting in Portland on Sunday to discuss marijuana reform at both state and federal levels. The recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado have forced a national dialog regarding the viability and necessity of prohibition laws.
Addressing roughly 100 people at the town hall meeting, Rep. Blumenauer said:
“Most Americans now feel that marijuana should be legalized, but an overwhelming majority say the federal government shouldn't interfere with what the states decide, so we want to make sure that the federal government doesn't complicate something as this is being worked out.”
On Tuesday Rep. Blumenauer, along with Rep. Jared Polis (D) of Colorado, has plans to introduce a bill for marijuana reform. The proposal would regulate marijuana in the same way the federal government regulates alcohol sales. There will be a federal tax installed and rules allowing states to make their own regulations. Oversight responsibilities would move from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the (appropriately renamed) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives.
It isn’t just a rogue duo being rebellious this time. There are efforts to change the existing marijuana laws all over Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced support for efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky. Dana Rohrabacher (R), U.S. Representative from California, is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on marijuana. Senator Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont plans to hold a hearing on how to settle conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws. He has also come out in favor of ending federal mandatory minimum sentences force long prison terms for drug crimes.
“I am quite confident in the next ten to fifteen years it will be legal, but that's not the point. The point is the federal government shouldn't get in the way of what voters decide in Oregon, in Colorado, or anyplace else.” said Blumenauer, who has been pushing for marijuana decrminilation since 1973.