Earlier today, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has reintroduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This short, simple bill would resolve the tension between state and federal marijuana laws by making an exception to federal law for activity in compliance with state laws that regulate marijuana for medical or adult-use purposes.
Because of MPP’s success in changing public opinion and state laws, we expect numerous bills to be introduced this year to reform federal marijuana laws. We will support all of them, but Rep. Rohrabacher’s bill stands out. It’s the best policy — covering not just medical marijuana, but adult-use laws passed in four states and Washington, D.C. — and has the best chance of passing. Last year, we passed an amendment very similar to this bill, thanks to broad bipartisan support for respecting state laws, and this year the bill has twice as many Republicans on board than when it was introduced last year.
Republican co-sponsors include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock, and Don Young (R-AK). Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).
Back in December, the attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit in federal court against the state of Colorado, claiming that the law making marijuana legal for adults there was causing problems for law enforcement in their states.
Now, a group of prominent Oklahoma Republicans is urging their attorney general to drop the suit, according to the Washington Post:
“[W]e share your concerns about the growing amounts of marijuana apparently coming into our state from Colorado,” the letter reads. “However, we believe this lawsuit against Colorado is the wrong way to deal with the issue, for a number of reasons.”
In the suit, Pruitt said Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana injured the ability of Oklahoma and other bordering states to enforce their marijuana laws and violates the supremacy clause of the Constitution giving federal law precedence over state ones.
But the group of Republicans think if the lawsuit was successful at the Supreme Court, it could “undermine all of those efforts to protect our own state’s right to govern itself.”
“We think the best move at this point would be to quietly drop the action against Colorado, and if necessary, defend the state’s right to set its own policies, as we would hope other states would defend our right to govern ourselves within constitutional confines,” the letter reads. “We also do not feel that attempting to undermine the sovereignty of a neighboring state using the federal courts, even if inadvertently, is a wise use of Oklahoma’s limited state resources.”
The letter was signed by Reps. Mike Ritze, Lewis Moore, John Bennett Mike Christian, Dan Fisher, and Sens. Ralph Shortey and Nathan Dahm.
Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner announced earlier this week that, if he had been in office, he would have vetoed Illinois’ new law, which allows seriously ill patients access to medical cannabis. Rauner also said he preferred a system that would make business licenses available only to the highest bidders in order to raise money for state coffers.
Governor Quinn, who signed the medical marijuana bill in 2013, took exception to the comments, pointing out that the process is both competitive and transparent. His campaign called Rauner’s statements “heartless” and stressed that the law “will ease pain and provide relief for cancer patients (and) severely ill people.”
Rep. Lou Lang, who sponsored the current law, noted that Illinois’ program is among the most tightly-controlled in the country. He also stated that “[t]he whole notion that Mr. Rauner would veto the bill, the notion that it would go to the highest bidder, is just callous, and flies in the face of logic.”
Rauner’s opposition to the current law stands in contrast to most Republican lawmakers, who joined Democrats earlier this year to extend the program to allow individuals with seizure conditions to qualify for access. His statements are particularly important because the winner of this election will be in office in 2017 — when the current program expires. In order for seriously ill patients to continue to have access, a new law will need to be passed.
MPP’s voter guide for the New Hampshire primary election has now been published. Click here to find out if the candidates on your ballot agree it’s time for a more sensible approach to marijuana. The election will take place next Tuesday, September 9 — one week from today — so mark your calendars now and don’t forget to vote!
There are many contrasts between the primary election candidates on marijuana policy. This is especially true on the Republican ballot, where reform advocate Andrew Hemingway is seeking the nomination for governor over Walt Havenstein. The winner will face Governor Maggie Hassan, who has been a tremendous disappointment to supporters of marijuana policy reform.
If you’ve been following New Hampshire’s reform efforts in recent years, you know that the 400-member House has been far ahead of the 24-member Senate and the governor’s office. Fortunately, four senators decided to retire this year, and this election presents a number of opportunities to improve the Senate.
In addition to the race for governor, there are several Republican state senate primaries where candidates’ positions are very different. Some of these races are expected to be very close, so your vote and your friends’ votes could easily be the difference between electing a reformer and electing a prohibitionist.
Tuesday, September 9, is Primary Election Day in Rhode Island. With an open race for the top slot in the state, all eyes are on the gubernatorial primary races. Next year, the legislature will continue discussing whether Rhode Island should replace marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations, so it is important to know how the candidates for governor view the issue.
Democratic primary gubernatorial candidates: When asked in March, all three major candidates — Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell — indicated that they are monitoring the effects of regulation and taxation in Colorado and Washington. However, all indications are that Taveras is the least open to marijuana regulation — he stated that he is “not currently supportive of legalization.” This is not too surprising considering Taveras has received public support from prominent marijuana prohibitionist and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
Republican primary gubernatorial candidates:On the Republican side of the coin, Ken Block has said he will withhold judgment until he can “see the results in Colorado and Washington.” His opponent, Allan Fung, not only opposes “the legalization of marijuana for recreational use,” but also makes no mention of even being interested in results from Colorado and Washington.