Rep. Diana DeGette Introduces Bill to Allow Amendment 64 to Proceed

Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette today followed through with her promise to introduce federal legislation to respect the will of the voters on Amendment 64. She has introduced the "Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act of 2012."

The bill would amend 21 USC 903 of the Controlled Substance Act by adding a provision:

In the case of any State law that pertains to marijuana, 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.

Currently, section 903 reads:[More...]

"No provision of this subchapter 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 any State law on the same subject matter which would otherwise be within the authority of the State, unless there is a positive conflict between that provision of this subchapter and that State law so that the two cannot consistently stand together."

Rep. Jared Polis today wrote a letter (available here) to Attorney General Eric Holder and the DEA requesting no enforcement action be taken against those in compliance with state law. In all, 17 Congresspersons signed the letter.

We are concerned that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continue to threaten individuals and businesses acting within the scope of their states’ laws on the medicinal use of marijuana despite formal guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion. These actions contradict assurances made by DOJ in 2009 that the Department would not prioritize criminal charges against those who act in compliance with state law. It is also a poor use of limited federal resources. We hope your agencies will not take a similar approach with regard to individuals and businesses who comply with Colorado’s and Washington’s new laws, each of which were approved with overwhelming public support.

Not responding appropriately in my view: Sen. Michael Bennet, who is joining with Gov. Hickenlooper and state Attorney General John Suthers in doing nothing except waiting for a response from DOJ as to its intentions. His rep says:

Right now, Senator Bennet is waiting to see the results of the conversations between the state of Colorado and the Justice Department. As you know the governor and attorney general have requested guidance from DOJ about how the Justice Department will respond to Colorado’s marijuana vote.”

More at Colorado Independent and Huffington Post.

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    I support DeGette, but is there anyone else (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:06:42 PM EST
    who also finds it interesting that she's invoking "state's rights?"

    Amending the federal law (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Peter G on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:31:29 PM EST
    to allow a sphere for state-law variation is a strategy that acknowledges the reality of supremacy (U.S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2), and is therefore not the same as right wing "states' rights" theories like "interposition."

    When I click on "interposition" (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 12:16:36 AM EST
    what comes up is format for me to e-mail Wiki re this subject. Why?  Perhaps my newness to my mini.

    No, sorry, my little mistake (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 08:53:37 AM EST
    Just a formatting error in creating the link to the Wikipedia article on "interposition" -- an extreme right wing theory of "state's rights" deployed in opposition to federal civil rights laws. Apparently I inadvertently clicked the "mail to" button (looks like an envelope) instead of the "add link" button (looks like links on a chain) in the compose-a-comment area.

    Thanks, I'm really just talking about using (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 08:29:41 AM EST
    the term itself, not the technical definition(s) of it. Perception, and all that...

    Wouldn't it Just Be Easier... (none / 0) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:08:21 AM EST
    ...to do the right thing and petition the DEA to get marijuana off the Schedule I and place it where it belongs, Schedule V.  Or just treat it like alcohol and remove it from the Scheduling.  Let states write their own laws.

    This states rights argument is ridiculous, and it's not going anywhere.  What politicians are going to go on record as being for states rights today and against them last week.  These are the kind of votes politicians hate because they will invariably bit them in the A.