Ron Paul and Barney Frank to Obama: Don't Crack Down on Legal Pot in Colorado and Washington

Outgoing Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) sent a letter to the White House Wednesday asking President Obama not to crack down on legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington, which last week passed ballot initiatives repealing marijuana prohibition.

"We urge you to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following their states’ laws with regard to the use of marijuana," the letter reads. "Scarce federal resources – law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal – should not be expended in opposition to the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington, given the responsibility of all federal officials to find ways to withhold unwise or unnecessary expenditures."

Paul and Frank introduced legislation in June 2011 that would repeal federal marijuana prohibition. With both men leaving the House in January, pushing for federal drug policy will be up to a new class of House members.

You can read the full letter after the jump, or on Frank's congressional site

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC    20500

Dear Mr. President,

We urge you to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following their states’ laws with regard to the use of marijuana.

We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom.  We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states.

Respect for the rights of states to set policies on those matters that primarily affect their own residents argues for federal noninterference in this case, as does respect for the wishes of the voters – again, on matters that primarily affect those in the relevant electorate.  Additionally, we believe that scarce federal resources – law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal – should not be expended in opposition to the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington, given the responsibility of all federal officials to find ways to withhold unwise or unnecessary expenditures.

We believe that respecting the wishes of the electorates of Colorado and Washington and allowing responsible state authorities to carry out those wishes will provide valuable information in an important national debate.  Our request does not mean any permanent waiver of the ability of the federal government to enforce national laws should there be negative consequences of these state decisions – which we do not believe are at all likely – and thus we have as a result of these two states’ decisions a chance to observe in two states the effect of the policy that we continue to believe would be wise for the country as a whole.  Those who disagree with us should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test.

Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources – these we believe are many strong reasons for you to defer to the state decisions, and we believe that even those who do not share our view that personal liberty should dictate this result should have no objection to your acting on these principles in this case.

Rep. Ron Paul                                                                          Rep. Barney Frank
Member of Congress                                                              Member of Congress

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Ron who? Barney who? No. Doesn't ring any bells.

  • sarcasmic||

    Barny the Frank is a Member all right.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    Our request does not mean any permanent waiver of the ability of the federal government to enforce national laws should there be negative consequences of these state decisions – which we do not believe are at all likely – and thus we have as a result of these two states’ decisions a chance to observe in two states the effect of the policy that we continue to believe would be wise for the country as a whole.

    Nice to see federalism is alive and well. Again, where in the Constitution is Congress' power to ban drugs?

  • sarcasmic||

    The federal government can do anything that is not prohibited by the Bill of Rights.

    Since there's nothing in the Bill of Rights to protect the right to smoke a dube, there's nothing to stop the feds from outlawing it.

  • Jordan||

    "THIS IS WHAT MODERN AMERICANS ACTUALLY BELIEVE"

  • Almanian.||

    It's either the "good and hard" clause, or the "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 'Constitutios' that's a good one!" clause.

  • Calidissident||

    Also known as the "Are you serious?" clause

  • np||

    Can't you see it's right there in the commerce clause?

  • Brutus||

    I can see banning interstate trafficking of drugs, but intrastate? Fuck off, Leviathan, that's the business of the states.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    I can see banning interstate trafficking of drugs, but intrastate?

    How so? The Congress can "regulate" inter-state commerce, but they cannot ban it. If it is banned, there is no commerce, therefore nothing to regulate.

    States can ban it if they want can do so, within the confines of the state.

  • Robert||

    That would be true if it were a complete ban on all commerce in all materials of the type legislated about. However, in this case Congress declared the category to be "drugs" or "substances", and since they didn't ban all drugs or substances from commerce under all circumstances, this is considered a regulation, in the understanding that all regulations prohibit something.

  • Robert||

    They said it was "economic activity" that "in the aggregate" "affected" commerce among the several states. In other words, if you take all productive activity (in this case producing goods with a monetary value as a commodity) that was in a category Congress created or recognized and had a "comprehensive scheme" of "regulation" on, that allowing anyone in any state to operate outside that scheme would thwart Congress's power to regulate commerce among the several states. So basically Congress can draw a line around even a huge category of business that could be considered a category somehow, and then regulate it "comprehensively" in a way that substantially involves interstate commerce, and then they can outlaw all exceptions to operating under that scheme in any way that could be considered "economic" (i.e. value-producing) or at least involving some commodity that could theoretically bring in money if you sold it.

  • Mainer2||

    If Obama's has to choose between

    A) Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources

    And

    B) Fuck you, that's why.

    The smart money would be on B, no ?

  • Pippers||

    Smart money would be a long diatribe on how the nation isn't ready and a pile of other useless excuses.

    It might not matter, as the timing of this is when depts like the DEA are strapped for cash. They're not going to bother, they simply can't afford it.

  • BoxyBoxyBoxyBoxy||

    Unless it's profitable for the DEA to raid state legal pot, which it very well may be. Civil asset forfeiture is such a cash cow that this year, while waiting for congress to approve a prison purchase, the DoJ said "fuck it" and bought it with their own money.

    http://www.daily-chronicle.com...../index.xml

  • deified||

    Son, you have been led astray.

    Cannabis mobilizes the young Obamabots.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Why would they send that letter to the President? DoJ and DEA run this show. They cannot seriously believe Holder or Leonhart are going to let that empty suit tell them what to do.

  • Loki||

    ^THIS^ I'm becoming more and more convinced by the day that Obama doesn't actually control the executive branch at all. He's too busy playing golf or going on date nights with Michelle to notice or care about what the bureaucracies are up to.

  • Mr Whipple||

    From what I understand, Holder doesn't have any control over Melinda Haag.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We urge you to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington...

    What about the minorities in those states who voted against legalization? Don't they deserve a voice? Shouldn't we have a president who stands up for the little guy when his state government and fellow voters won't?

  • ||

    Absolutely anyone who doesn't want to get high should not be compelled to do so. If anyone in CO or WA forces someone to smoke dope the Feds have a mandate to swoop in.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The federal government can do anything that is not prohibited by the Bill of Rights.

    Unlimited power, then.

  • sarcasmic||

    Basically, yes.

    If you want you could go with the abridged version of the Constitution

    General Welfare... regulate commerce... necessary and proper

    and you still get unlimited power.

    The government derives its power from the simple fact that no one stops it. It is supposed to limit itself. Self limited power never works.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Congress shall make no law infringing government power.

    And they all lived happily ever after.

    The End.

  • Loki||

    Those who disagree with us should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test.

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! Yeah, that'll be the day.

  • Mainer2||

    This will play out like concealed carry laws. The predicted catastrophe won't happen in Colorado and Washington. But that won't stop the drug warriors from making the same warnings as each successive state legalizes. Seriously, 49 states now have some form of concealed carry law, and the anti-gunners in Illinois are still warning of Old West shootouts and blood in the streets. Drug warriors will never let reality dissuade them.

  • Mr Whipple||

    UNHOLY ALLIANCE!

  • LibertarianAmazon||

    Of course Obama will ignore this and proceed to wage a Federal war within those states. The assistant AG to Holder has publicly stated he's going to go medieval on California's ass and will probably do the same to Washington and Colorado, more so because they legalized for recreational use, not just medical.

  • sohbet||

    very super blogos thanks admin sohbet & sohbet odaları

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement