Election 2012

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

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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