Colorado Congressman: Feds Should Butt Out Of Marijuana


Photo: OutFront Colorado
Congressman Jared Polis: “I don’t see a federal role. Just as the policy of prohibition failed nationally with alcohol — it’s now up to states and counties — I think we should do the same with marijuana”

‚ÄčColorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said on Wednesday that the federal government should not be in the business of regulating marijuana use by Americans.

“I don’t see a federal role,” Congressman Polis said in a “Washington Unplugged” interview, reports Brian Montopoli at CBS News. “I don’t think that the federal side should be coming in and second guessing what states are doing.”
Polis represents a state — Colorado — that allows medical marijuana use. There is also a push in the Rocky Mountain State for full legalization.
“Just as the policy of prohibition failed nationally with alcohol — it’s now up to states and counties — I think we should do the same with marijuana,” Polis said.
Colorado’s medical marijuana regulatory structure has been a model for other states, according to Polis, who pointed to the monitoring of production and dispensaries as well as background checks.

Polis said he doesn’t see “much downside” in decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana.
“One of the major issues we have with marijuana is its accessibility to minors and underage children, and that’s because the corner drug dealer doesn’t care if they’re selling it to somebody who’s 14 years old,” Polis said. “If we regulate it, just like we do with alcohol and tobacco, we can have a real system in place to make sure that minors, young people don’t get ahold of substances they shouldn’t be using.”
Polis is at work on legislation to make it easier for marijuana growers and distributors to have access to banking services.
“Many banks don’t want to take on the perceived risk of dealing with companies that might be in violation of federal law, so we’re trying to clarify that if companies are following state law there won’t be any risks for asset forfeiture or other risks for the banks,” he said.
It’s apparent that “we are not winning the Drug War,” according to Polis, who pointed to increased drug use and the flow of drugs across the Mexican border from cartels.
Polis also pointed to a recent study showing legal medical marijuana is already a $1.7 billion industry.
“It’s already created thousands of jobs in California, several million dollars of tax revenue — I really think that’s just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the potential of the industry in terms of job creation, revenue creation for the government,” Polis said.
The Obama Administration has done a better job that the Bush Administration when it comes to federal involvement in the issue, according to Polis, who noted there has been a move away from raids of legal dispensaries and providers.
“However, they’ve still been causing some trouble around the edges for what we feel are fundamentally legal state businesses,” he said, saying that causes a “general fear.”
“We really can’t have this be at the whim of what side of the bed a president or an attorney general wakes up on,” Polis said.
“Well, I meant its as serious as any other issue,” Polis said when asked if he had any trouble getting people to take marijuana legalization seriously. “I don’t see anything funny about it.”