Sen. Patrick Leahy is calling for greater clarity on how the federal government will address the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. In a press release today, Leahy, who chairs the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, announced plans to hold a hearing to discuss the dissonance between federal and state law on this matter.
In November, both states legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for personalized use.
The statement makes it clear that the committee can’t do much until the administration takes a stance. “Legislative options exist to resolve the differences,” Leahy wrote, but, he went on, “in order to give these options full consideration, the committee needs to understand how the administration intends to respond.”
Leahy did plant a possible solution in a letter he sent to Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, earlier this month. “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.”
But Leahy spokesman David Carle said the senator does not endorse this or any other particular policy direction at this point. “That’s one option, there are others that are probably being discussed. That’s what the purpose of the hearing is.”
Leahy cited “the fiscal constraints of federal law enforcement” and asked Kerlikowske, “What assurance can and will the administration give to state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face Federal criminal penalties …” but stopped short of offering policy stance.