To immunize anyone acting in accordance with state marijuana law from federal prosecution, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., introduced Friday a bipartisan bill, H.R. 1523, Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013.
If signed into law, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act’s protection would extend both to medical-marijuana businesses and individual marijuana users, whether medical or recreational in nature, as long as they obey existing state laws.
“This bipartisan bill represents a common-sense approach that establishes federal government respect for all states’ marijuana laws,” Rohrabacher said in a statement. “It does so by keeping the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana activities in states that don’t want it to be criminal.”
H.R. 1523 is the latest development in a groundswell of support for the relaxed regulation of marijuana use. A recent Pew Research Center survey found the majority of Americans would be in favor of something like this bill. The poll also revealed 60 percent of respondents believed that federal marijuana law should not supersede state marijuana laws.
Steve Fox, the national political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, chimed in his support for the measure.
“Marijuana prohibition is on its last legs because most Americans no longer support it,” Fox said in a statement. “This legislation presents a perfect opportunity for members to embrace the notion that states should be able to devise systems for regulating marijuana without their citizens having to worry about breaking federal law.”
Fox added, “If a state chooses to take marijuana sales away from cartels and the criminal market and put them in the hands of legitimate, taxpaying businesses, it should be able to do so without federal interference.”
Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Don Young, R-Alaska, are co-sponsoring H.R. 1523.
The bipartisan support for H.R. 1523 speaks to the growing support for an end, or at least a relaxation, of America’s war on drugs, at least on the marijuana front. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington cast their ballots to legalize the use of marijuana by adults 21 and older.
However, resistance to the concept remains alive within the GOP. On Friday, Reason reported several Republican members of the House of Representatives called on President Barack Obama to block Colorado and Washington from regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana.