If Colorado was allowed to treat marijuana like alcohol — or any other medicine, for that matter — pot dispensaries could freely set up business bank accounts without fear of federal prosecution and marijuana could, like corn and wheat, be grown openly in national forests.
This is according to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat, who said he plans to push a law in the new Congress that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level so that states with medicinal laws on the books, like Colorado, could treat it as they wish.
Under Polis’ structure, marijuana laws would be extremely local — similar to states that have so-called dry, alcohol- free counties.
“It’s not in the federal government’s realm,” Polis said. “I’m proud of Colorado being a pioneer in this regard and setting up a regulatory structure. We’ve benefited in tax revenues and I think it’s dealt a big blow to criminalize it.”
The Obama administration has urged federal prosecutors’ tolerance in prosecuting pot possession in the more than a dozen states that have medical-marijuana laws on the books.
But Polis continues to push full decriminalization in case future administrations — and federal Drug Enforcement Agency chiefs — may not be so friendly.
He also believes that a law protecting states means banks would be more comfortable setting up interstate accounts with pot dispensaries.
In August, Wells Fargo & Co. said it was going to stop handling marijuana-dispensary accounts because of federal laws.
Though other banks will take the accounts, Polis wants dispensaries to have a choice.
Polis has supporters in the libertarian movement, who believe that legalizing marijuana would be kind to already- clogged courts and, perhaps, cause less havoc because people “are a lot less danger to themselves and society when they are smoking marijuana than when they drink too much alcohol,” said David Kopel, an adjunct law professor at the University of Denver.
“Marijuana was legal from the time when the pilgrims showed up through the 1930s, and the country grew from humble beginnings to a world superpower with legal marijuana,” Kopel said. “I think it’s a waste of criminal justice resources,” to prosecute pot cases.
But former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid has a different opinion. He is not in favor of full decriminiliazation but respects voters’ approval of a medical-marijuana laws. He wants to see it put through a clinical trial like other drugs.
“With all due respect, we just don’t know the pros and cons of marijuana as medicine from a scientific perspective,” said Eid, now a private attorney. “It’s very important we have a dispassionate conversation about this. Voters have said they want medicine. We should treat it like medicine.”
Polis plans to push his proposed law in Washington early this year, though its prospects in a Republican-controlled House appear to be dim.
Plans are underway to get a pot legalization ballot measure on Colorado’s 2012 ballot (a similar measure failed in 2006).
“Every state should be able to take this issue on its own,” said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, which is working on fundraising for the ballot measure.
Tvert said the rumored help from Democratic billionaire George Soros was not true, but “if whoever is saying that wants to put us in touch, that would be wonderful.”
via : Denver Post
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