Democratic Reps call for federal marijuana commission

By David Ferguson
Saturday, April 20, 2013 14:44 EDT
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Rep Steve Cohen news conference
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A group of Democratic House members led by Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) have introduced a bill aimed at creating a National Commission on Marijuana Policy, which would be tasked with examining the conflicts currently arising between state and federal laws regulating the drug. According to The Hill’s Floor Action Blog, Cohen feels that the bill is a necessary step in addressing a situation that is only going to become more pressing.

“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” Cohen said.

“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,” he said. “A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”

Cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA) and Jared Polis (D-CO). The group hopes to find a way to reconcile to conflicts between state and national laws, as well as to study the financial costs of the federal prohibition on marijuana use. The committee would also be charged with studying the health effects of marijuana.

Cohen’s office pointed out in a statement that a federal commission was formed in 1971 to study marijuana. That commission called for the decriminalization of the drug in 1973.

“In the four decades since the Shafer Commission, however,” the statement read, “the federal government has only expanded its War on Drugs and continued to prohibit the use marijuana,”

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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