Tell the Feds to Back Off State Pot Laws

Updated Jan 25, 2104

Just this week, there have been some huge moves!

Attorney General Eric Holder has said he will be working to fix federal banking laws to allow marijuana businesses that are legal under state law to use banking and credit card services.

And Congressmen Earl Blumenauer  has written to his Congressional Colleagues to once again drum up support for removing Cannabis from the Federal List of the most dangerous Controlled Substances (Schedule I).

These things aren’t done yet, but the amount  momentum  shift and substantial change in the rhetoric of some of the most powerful public officials is striking.  Things are happening!

Updated Jan 20, 2014. What’s next for the Federal government’s involvement in marijuana prohibition in 2014?

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have both made moderating statements towards Federal marijuana policy.

These statements indicate a significant shift in the debate, and that politicians are accepting the inevitable reform of marijuana drug laws. Public support for these changes are already strong.

But other than the Cole memo from Aug 2013, which outlined where the Feds would and wouldn’t intervene in state marijuana laws, there has been little action.

According to Allen St. Pierre of NORML, there are about 180 Representatives in the US House of Representatives as part of the “Cannabis Caucus”, and  10-15 US Senators that support legalization.

But what will they do?

It is time for legislation to be re-introduced to prevent the Feds from intervening in the states’ business in choosing to regulate marijuana how they see fit.

Can the Justice Department simply remove Marijuana from the list of Schedule I Substances on it’s own? There is some controversy about that.

There is also an obvious need to fix banking laws to allow legal marijuana businesses use credit card and standard banking services. Current federal banking law does not allow any marijuana business to use electronic transactions.

But action is clearly necessary. The status quo is untenable. Federal law and many state laws remain in conflict, and that is not going to change. More states are going to legalize are reform this year, so something will have to change.

The people of Washington and Colorado spoke with the ballot in November 2012 and have effectively legalized recreational marijuana in their respective states. But despite this, and despite the United State supposedly being a country ran on democratic principles, the federal government will likely be cracking down on those states for violating federal law.

Terrific quintessential shot of the U.S. Capitol Building domeMarijuana is against federal law—you can’t grow it, sell it or smoke it. According to the feds, it has no legitimate medical use, making medical marijuana statutes just as much of a threat as recreational marijuana statutes. While the White House hasn’t said exactly how it plans on handling the new laws of Colorado and Washington, the consensus is that they won’t sit back and do nothing.

To that end, several lawmakers on Capitol Hill have introduced legislation to make the feds back off. Known as House Bill 6606, the bipartisan legislation is called The Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2012 and effectively says the federal government can’t preempt state marijuana laws passed by an overwhelming majority. In other words, they need to leave the marijuana laws alone.

While there are only a few weeks left in this 112th session of Congress, the legislation will likely be reintroduced next session, so gaining support for it begins now.

The proposed legislation reads:

In the case of any State law that pertains to marihuana, no provision of this title shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of State law on the same subject matter, nor shall any provision of this title be construed as preempting any such State law.

HB 6606 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. It is sponsored by Representative Diana DeGette (CO) and is co-sponsored by several other lawmakers from across the country and both sides of the aisle.

Some have suggested the federal government will sue the states to stop the recreational marijuana laws. Others have said they’ll wait and crack down on users and dispensaries and battle the cases in court. But, it’s clear they won’t let go of their Drug War this easily.

So, how can you help?

At the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), you can easily let your voice be heard. At the bottom of this linked page, fill in your information and a letter or email will be sent to your state representative, urging support of HB 6606 or any predecessor with the same aim.

You might not live in Colorado or Washington, but if you understand the futility that is this drug war, you have a responsibility to help.

About Elizabeth

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

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  • melanie powell

    the people of CO and WA have spoken..they have voted to legalize marijuana, the same as alcohol and tobacco….leave them alone and use the War on Drugs for actual bad drugs…there are many drugs out there, man made drugs and prescription drugs that are ruining America and it’s people…focus on that and leave CO and WA alone!

    • mark denton

      I say leave all drugs alone and let the person or persons who decide to defile there bodies with the knowledge knowing these chemicals may or not be harmeful and dangerous do so at there own risk buy knowing this they should be able to do so as long as they don’t influence people that wont to try these dangerous stuff and they should also know that a docter may not be able to help them if they become dangerousily ill from using these drugs and they should not be able to operate o run dangerous machinery while in the use of these drugs but other than that let them have it and do as much as they want and if they kill themselves at least we can safely say they were warned fairly and were pleaded with not to use these drugs especialy without researching them thurouly before use!

      • David Matson

        Its pretty hard to hurt yourself with cannabis.

      • Rebecca Doughty

        Really? You need to be more informed before commenting on such an issue.

      • Danioe

        Mark you a reader Then I encourage you to read a book called “Run From The Cure” By Rick Simpson. Then you can make your statement about what will kill you and how stupid people might be, because you have NO CLUE what you are talking about!

        • David Matson

          Rick Simpson’s work is really interesting!

    • Daniel


  • Sean Bullis

    I am strongly opposed to the federal government overruling the wishes and demands of the citizens. It is unconstitutional and un-american.

  • Ashley Brooke Anderson

    Marijuana is safer than liquor. The reason I smoke is because I have been without health care & suffer from depression & anxiety. Every time I smoke my depression is put on hold & Im able to keep moving. I don’t drink & I don’t do any other drugs. I will NEVER understand why marijuana is illegal. This is supposed to be the best country but I can’t wait until this ignorant racism is dead. The only reason it is illegal is because they wanted blacks in jail.

  • shayne schwarten

    Please leave Colorado and Washington alone. The citizens of those states spoke out for what they believe in and that is what our country was built on. The government says there is no medical uses for marijuana, but if that is the case then why would they hold patents for medical marijuana? They spoke out and voted for the legalization of marijuana and now its time to leave those states alone.

  • patty rivette

    the voters voted,and just like voting for the president,senate,or congress it was voted in by the people,you expect us all to abide by whatever decissions you make,and you should abide by the voters wishes also.this is another matter of gov.going against our freedoms,this has been happening more and more.our supposed to protect the rights of the AMERICAN people,that is your duty to this country.

  • melina richter

    it just needs to be legal everywhere. how many out there have heatd of someone that smokes pot kill someone in a car wreck or die from tylonal. they have the wrong one leagal. take the booze away make that illegal and leagalize pot. it saved my life; i weighted 81 lbs and after smoing i now weigh 135. i wd of died if my state wasnt leagal

  • carl drevenak

    we the people that vote would like to have the feds stay out of our state and to respect our votes and our rights and if they think that there is no medical benefits then why do the fed have a 22 acre pot farm on columbus air base in mississippi to supply some people around the country with medical pot once a month so if they are saying it has no known medical property’s then why have they been doing this for years plus why are they leaving washington dc alone and not closeing there medical dispensaries down and why dose obama get to use it for stress and other medical reasons we voted for it we would like it to stay and there are many proven medical propertys to it from doctors and research from all around the world so please honer our votes and rites to choice thank you

  • lena chard

    I will not try marijuna inless legal.. if your on federal housing it illegal.. if passed maybe we can agree it to be pill froms so neighbors can not smell it.. hemp saves lifes!

  • mike mitchell

    respect the rights and the voices of the people.
    end the “war on drugs,” that so far has been a total failure.
    the dollars spent of fighting cannabis should be reallocated to do good.
    tax cannabis and use it for schools, feeding the homeless, caring for the elderly, and more peaceful means.
    those that use cannabis are everyday people with jobs, families, with hopes & dreams.
    the war on alcohol proved to be a failure, so why repeat the mistake?
    Once legal, there will probably be a rise in cannabis use, but it will subside as time goes by. the attention span of the average american is very short, as we’ve all seen. something else shiny will capture their attention, and cannabis will take a back seat.
    legalize, tax, and move on.

  • mike mitchell

    how many lives has alcohol ruined? how many people have died from it’s use/abuse?
    how many bar fights are started? how many domestic abuse calls do law enforcement office go to where alcohol is the root of the dispute?
    stack up the bodies that alcohol has taken to the number that cannabis has.

    look at the good cannabis has done for those in pain, for those with no appetite from chemo. it’s easy to see how many ways cannabis has helped rather than hurt.

    weight the financial benefits that hemp and cannabis can have, how they can help our sagging economy.

    sure, there is lots and lots of money in battling cannabis. it costs a lot of money to warehouse people. it cost lots and lots to feed, clothe, provide health care for, babysitter/guard them. billions and billions. cannabis if legalized could be exploited for replacing that revenue in a more civilized manner.

    let’s cut to the chase and look at the dollars & cents/sense side of the equation.

  • Kathy Farler

    I know really sick people that could eat after smoking. I’ve seen people raise awesome families and smoked a little after their kids went to sleep. And I’ve never once heard of it destroying families or killing people. Even in auto accidents. Take the money spent on this harmless substance and focus it on meth! A substance that destroys whole families. Or crack down further on drunk driving that kills people on a daily basis. Do NOT let the federal government interfere in this, hell even the president has bought it illegally, rolled it illegally, smoked it illegally and inhaled it illegally and admitted it! What more do people need to know to see this is HARMLESS!

  • Shirley A Schmidt

    I live in Colorado, and voted for 64. I do not smoke marijuana, but I want Hemp to be grown for food, fuel and the environment!!!! It is against nature and GOD to try to extinct a species!!! The laws as they stand are against the poor and minorities.

  • Kimberly Johns

    Alcohol has more an inebriating effect and was made legal because the government couldn’t fight the people of this country that boot-legged. Marihuana actually does have medicinal properties; millions of people that have used it or seen the effects of its use can’t be wrong! Yet alcohol and tobacco are legal, purely for recreation and profit, so should marijuana be allowed to be made legal.

  • Michael Jacobs

    I have been bed-side with too many persons who have been under the care of Hospice at the end of days. As the states themselves have been given the mandates of the voters will for the use of marijuana, then it surely is the time for an Executive Order to take off God’s gift to mankind the misdirected inclusion of marijuana as a Schedule One drug. Now is the time to correct the short-sightedness of Richard M Nixon’s blunder of 1970. Take away the revenue stream of the cartels and repeal the office of the DEA. It can be regulated as well as alcohol and tobacco and will not cost lives; but take away misspent funds that for 42 years have accomplished absolutely NOTHING.


    I’ve seen people raise awesome families and smoked a little after their kids went to sleep. And I’ve never once heard of it destroying families or killing people. Even in auto accidents. Take the money spent on this harmless substance and focus it on meth! A substance that destroys whole families. Or crack down further on drunk driving that kills people on a daily basis. Do NOT let the federal government interfere in this, hell even the president has bought it illegally, rolled it illegally, smoked it illegally and inhaled it illegally and admitted it! What more do people need to know to see this is HARMLESS

  • Rebecca Doughty

    The DEA should at least recognize that cannabis is a real life saving medicine that has no(except in extreme cases) physical dependance. I would like to know what schedule alcohol is? Go after some real crime and stop going after peaceful cannabis users. The DEA needs to do the research as I have and understand they need to change their position. I think the DEA already knows the truth even though they still spread there propaganda. I know it is easier to arrest cannabis consumers than a dangerous law breaker and still get paid the same but you should work for your pay instead of bullying good people.

  • cindy carmichael

    please make cannabis leagel just as you did alcohol in all states

  • David Guffey`

    If you need a test case I have smoked since 1971 and if anything it has kept my Hep-C in check, with so many new uses for something that can grew by anyone. The country is in such bad shape financially why not give the money that ends up in the hands of the cartels. Why should this money, so much needed in our country keep going out to criminals in other countries. Besides, what about the country being by the people, for the people, our elected officials should do what the people that elected them to do their bidding, if not maybe next election you will be out of a job. Think of what the majority of the people that elected you want or look for a real job.
    David Guffey

  • Rachel Reuter

    Marijuana is a naturally grown plant. It’s not made in some lab somewhere by some wanna be chemist with a bunch of chemicals. It has proven medicinal uses as well as many other uses. There is no reason for it to be a schedule I. When’s the last time you heard on the news that somebody died of a weed overdose or even just from usin it in general? There are so many bad drugs out there that are ruinin lives, shouldn’t the government and DEA be more concerned about that? Think of all the revenue for the state of Wisconsin if it were legalized, and the job opportunities, truthfully I think it would help this country get outta debt. People are going to keep smoking it no matter what so how about we just legalize it? Our current president used to partake in the herbal experience so why can we?

  • Michael G. Wade

    For two long have we stood by and allowed the Demonization of a truly miracle plant which supplies so many products that make life easier and more economical for the planet and the life living upon the planet in which we all depend. Out of greed is the only reason those who wish to keep marijuana illegal, illegal. The money, the jobs, all the things they wish to keep in place does not add up to the tax that we all pay for keeping it that way, plus, not even counting the denial to everyone First Amendment Rights, we are causing the Planet more harm in denying the multiple uses that the hemp can have over the conservative resources that would be effecting us as well. Ignorance has always been the first problem needed fixing if we are to fix the rest of our planet and the life it supports problems. Where there is not ignorance, there is tyranny in being Greedy at the cost of all life upon this planet and, those who are not doing their job in alleviating these problems, are fellow conspirators in continuation of keeping their fellow man ignorant and brain washed on false information.

  • Ben Chambers

    I don’t get it.. where’s the link to send a letter to my rep? I can’t find it.
    Well w/e.. I’ll just say it here and now. Legalize and re-schedule pot, before more people get hurt and killed because of the barbaric, idiotic, foolish illegalization of a drug that is KNOWN as being a peace-creator. Ever heard of the ‘peace pipe’?

    I’m willing to bet that’s why it was made illegal, even though I know that there were racist undertones against blacks that also fueled the initial illegalization. Be smart. Legalize.

  • Aaron Lewis

    It should be a heavily penalized crime to discriminate anyone over usage of cannabis. Its a healthier habit to have than a morning espresso. Less addictive than chocolate. No organ damage, when alcohol damages the liver and kidneys. It does not impair you or your judgement when smoked. Unlike alcohol, it does not make you defiant and rowdy when used in recreation. If anything, they should be promoting the use of cannabis and PROTECTING it. Not to mention all the money each state would make off taxes. Colorado alone made roughly $300,000 off the FIRST DAY it became legalized. How much money could go to improving schools and roads, improving towns and cities, protecting wildlife, off tax everyday for a YEAR. EVERY YEAR. And what would happen if EVERY STATE did the same. Not to mention all the money and expenses they would save on using police resources to harass and incarcerate users of cannabis. If cannabis was legal in all 50 states, and was no longer considered a drug, the US government could use their share of the tax from ALL 50 STATES COMBINED from year to year to improve our military, fund research and technology advancements. Obama even commented on how marijuana is safer than alcohol and that it is being descriminated. CANNABIS COULD MAKE THE UNITED STATES A HELL OF LOT BETTER COUNTRY TO LIVE IN. OPEN YOUR EYES, US GOVERNMENT!!!! YOUR IN DENIAL!!!

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