Marijuana: Eighteen legislators ask feds to respect Colorado's Amendment 64

Page 2 of 2

Co-sponsors of the DeGette measure include Oregon's Earl Blumenauer, Tennessee's Steve Cohen and California's Sam Farr, as well as two colleagues from Colorado -- Jared Polis, a longtime supporter of marijuana reform, and, more surprisingly, Mike Coffman, a Republican who opposed the passage of Amendment 64.

"I voted against Amendment 64," he confirmed in a statement, "and I strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana, but I also have an obligation to respect the will of the voters given the passage of this initiative, and so I feel obligated to support this legislation."

The bill, shared below, would make minor changes in one section of the Controlled Substances Act, as well as inserting what's labeled a "Special Rule Regarding State Marihuana [sic] Laws." The suggested passage, featuring an antiquated spelling of "marijuana," 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 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 State law.
The aforementioned letter, on view in its entirety below, urges a similar approach to Amendment 64 and Washington's Initiative 502 by the U.S. Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Here's an excerpt from the document, addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and DEA administrator Michele Leonhart:
We are writing to urge federal law enforcement to consider carefully the recent decisions by the people of Colorado and Washington to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults. Under the new laws, each state will establish a comprehensive regulatory scheme governing the production, sale and personal use of marijuana. We believe that it would be a mistake for the federal government to focus enforcement action on individuals whose actions are in compliance with state law.
By the way, Polis had a memorable encounter with Leonhart in June, during which the DEA administrator repeatedly refused to say that marijuana was any less harmful than heroin. Here's a video of the exchange:

Bill co-sponsor Coffman did not sign the letter, unlike Polis, DeGette, Blumenauer, Cohen and Farr. However, more than ten other legislators who didn't add their name to the legislation have, including Colorado Representative Ed Perlmutter.

Why has Perlmutter not yet become a co-sponsor of DeGette's proposal?

Continue for more about the legislators' letter regarding Amendment 64.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts