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Sen. Patrick Leahy suggests legalizing one ounce of pot nationwide

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont says he intends to hold a hearing next month to consider changing federal drug laws, allowing U.S. citizens nationwide to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sen. Leahy released a letter last week that he sent earlier this month to Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The letter illustrated to the nation's drug czar how the administration intends to proceed now that two states have legalized marijuana use.

Voters in Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana last month. However, this move still flies in the face of federal drug laws that make it a crime to possess the controlled substance.

"The Senate Judiciary Committee has a significant interest in the effect of these developments on federal drug control policy," Leahy wrote.

"How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize Federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana?"

A former Vermont prosecutor, Leahy signaled that he would support legalizing small amounts of pot.

"Legislative options exist to resolve the differences between federal and state law in this area and end the uncertainty that residents of Colorado and Washington now face," Leahy wrote.

"One option would be to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law.

"In order to give these options full consideration, the committee needs to understand how the administration intends to respond to the decision of the voters in Colorado and Washington. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter."

In the meantime, President Obama said last week that he doesn't intend to pressure either Colorado or Washington State to comply with federal drug laws. The president stopped short of endorsing legalization.

 "It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view" to focus on drug use in states where it is now legal, the president said in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

Both Colorado and Washington State have already implemented legalization.

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