Drug Policy Alliance

  • December 12, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    If the Obama administration decides to move aggressively to scuttle efforts in Colorado and Washington State to take a different – many would say progressive – approach to the war on marijuana it won’t be because the administration had no alternative. Indeed plenty of academics, pundits and federal lawmakers are hoping the administration will support, not hinder, the experimentations in those two progressive Western states and are airing plenty of ways the administration could respond.

    University of Denver law school professor Sam Kamin detailed some of the possibilities the government could take with respect to the marijuana legalization initiatives that passed with strong support in Colorado and Washington. One of the possibilities Kamin highlighted was a bill recently introduced by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) “allowing states to essentially opt of the CSA [Controlled Substances Act outlaws marijuana and is administrated by the Drug Enforcement Agency] enforcement by passing laws that conflict with the federal prohibition ….”

    Rep. DeGette in a press statement announcing the legislation said several of her colleagues were concerned “about the federal government’s ability to override these voter-approved initiatives ….”

    “In Colorado,” DeGette said, “we’ve witnessed the aggressive policies of the federal government in their treatment of legal medicinal marijuana providers. My constituents have spoken and I don’t want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens.”

    In a piece for Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson writes that while the federal government “cannot force” Colorado and Washington “to impose criminal sanctions on pot possession,” the federal government “has great power” to block the states’ abilities to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana. (In an editorial, the magazine’s publisher Jann S. Wenner hopes the president won’t tap that power and urges an end to the war on weed calling it a “sham, a folly, a colossal waste of money and human potential.”)

  • November 3, 2010
    The California ballot measure aimed at legalizing the use of marijuana for adults 21 and older went down to defeat, but proponents are not giving up the fight, or showing overwhelming dejection.

    Stephen Gutwillig, director of the Drug Policy Alliance that spearheaded the Proposition 19 movement, told the Los Angeles Times, "This has been a watershed moment. Even in defeat, Proposition 19 has moved marijuana legalization into the mainstream of American politics." He continued that supporters of legalization would push ballot measures in 2012 in "Washington, Oregon, Colorado and very likely California."

    The newspaper also noted, "More than four decades after the war on drugs was declared, the country is almost evenly divided on whether to legalize marijuana. (Although Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has said that it is time for the nation to move beyond the so-called "War on Drugs," he did oppose Proposition 19.)

    Josh Harkinson, blogging for Mother Jones on yesterday's vote, wrote:

    As 4:20 faded into the late afternoon, it became clear that Prop 19 was headed for defeat. Even so, pot activists still had reason enough to party. Their campaign has taken legalization debate mainstream, and they'll all probably try again in 2012. They gathered in a parking lot outside Oaksterdam University, the cannabis cultivation school owned by Richard Lee, Prop 19's biggest financial backer. Pot smoke occasionally wafted through the air, and there wasn't a cop in sight who gave a damn.

    The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan has more reaction to the outcome over the ballot measure here.