Could Federal Marijuana Commission Force the Needed Pot “Conversation”?

In a December interview with Barbara Walters, President Barack Obama repeated what he’s alluded to before, that there needs to be a “conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say it’s legal.” That conversation hasn’t yet happened. Instead, the feds talk amongst themselves while the states and the citizens of the country move progressively forward.

In hopes that the conversation can be forced, Representatives this week introduced legislation that would create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy. The Commission would tackle the difficult questions that the Department of Justice seems so afraid to face, like:

  • The cost of prohibition
  • The potential health benefits and risks of marijuana use
  • The effects of banking and tax laws on marijuana businesses
  • Criminal justice implications of marijuana laws
  • Public safety issues related to marijuana use compared with marijuana legalization and regulation
  • The effects of prohibition on international relationships
  • And how to reconcile federal law with changing state laws

In January, Gil Kerlikowske, the Obama Administration’s drug czar, said we are “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.” But, it isn’t clear who is talking in this conversation.

A conversation involves give and take with the result being some sort of agreement. In a country like this, the conversation should be guided by the will of the people with constitutional concerns playing a similarly lead role. But the current conversation is more of a monologue by federal justice officials.

Steve Cohen

Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)

“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,” said Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) who introduced the legislation.

The Communications Director of NORML adds:

“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.”

You can show your support for the proposed commission by contacting your lawmakers and sharing this information.

Find a pre-written letter from NORML here to send to your Representatives. 

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Renter is a freelance writer and editor who writes about criminal justice issues.

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  • 420 College

    Conversation????? are you serious????? people have been and are already using weed.

  • Cyn

    good luck with that.. been living for a day where i can grow whatever i please in my garden for 2 decades – after i quit smoking pot for 15 years? (35yrs) i hope the younger people can straighten this huge mess left by 40 yrs of prosecuting people for doing something that a few others simply, “do not like” .. I don’t like a lot of things others do, but I don’t go around telling the gov’t to do something about it, i forget about it and live my life! there are SO MANY apologies to be issued to every single person whose life had been destroyed/disrupted by this ridiculous war on drugs. [ My late father, told me in back in 1976, that this war on drugs was hypocritical as when he was over in “the Nam”– amphetamines were dispensed like so much holiday candy; he was reminded of that when we had some small candy canes in cellophane ropes, if you can remember those.]. Basing policies on LIES can never bear anything but rotten fruit.