Pubdate: Wed, 11 Sep 2013
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2013 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Steven S. Epstein


The national conversation on marijuana laws took giant steps forward 
last month. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, announced the committee would hold a hearing this month on 
the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws. His announcement 
was followed by the Department of Justice announcing it was "deferring 
its right to challenge" the Colorado and Washington initiatives that 
"tax and regulate marijuana like alcoholic beverages."

Repeal of the federal prohibition is doubtful before the 2014 election 
at the earliest. However, the department announcement concedes it lacks 
the resources to address marijuana activity with or without the 
assistance of "state and local authorities." The department also 
understands that, "The Constitution simply does not give Congress the 
authority to require the states" to provide that assistance.

Massachusetts began a serious conversation with 2008's ballot question 
that decriminalized an ounce or less. The conversation continued with 
2012's ballot question allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana and 
continues over implementation of that law.

Soon it will turn to repealing the prohibition on adult cultivation of 
cannabis and commerce in marijuana. If the Legislature fails to act 
before May 2016, the conversation will culminate Election Day 2016 with 
Bay State voters replacing prohibition with a law that treats the adult 
cultivation and commerce in marijuana like the herb/agricultural 
commodity it is and focuses our energies and resources on punishing 
those who provide marijuana to children.

When we look back on marijuana prohibition in 2017, we will recognize 
opponents of ending the failed and profligate prohibition created a 
tempest in a teapot.

Steven S. Epstein

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