Pubdate: Wed, 06 Mar 2013
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2013 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: Valerie Richardson
Page: A6


Drug Czars Join Effort to Stop States From Superseding Federal Laws

DENVER - The Obama administration is facing rising national and 
international pressure to nullify efforts in Colorado and Washington 
state to implement new laws legalizing recreational marijuana use.

Nine former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs and four former 
drug czars are asking the Senate Judiciary Committee this week to 
"encourage Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to adhere to 
long-standing federal law and policy in this regard" at its Wednesday 
oversight hearing.

"Our nation urgently needs action from Attorney General Holder to 
ensure that federal marijuana laws are enforced, federal preemption 
is asserted, and our obligations under international drug treaties 
are honored," said the officials in a letter dated Monday on 
stationery from S.O.S.: Save Our Society from Drugs.

The letter comes as a United Nations agency, the International 
Narcotics Control Board, called on U.S. officials in its annual 
report released Monday to "ensure full compliance with the 
international drug control treaties on its entire territory."

Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, issued a 
statement Tuesday blasting the former anti-drug chiefs for "taking 
action to maintain the policies that kept them and their colleagues 
in business for so long."

"Their desire to keep marijuana sales in an underground market favors 
the drug cartels, whereas the laws approved in Colorado and 
Washington favor legitimate, tax-paying businesses," said Mr. Tvert, 
who led the Amendment 64 campaign in Colorado. "Marijuana prohibition 
has failed, and voters are ready to move on and adopt a more sensible 

Mr. Holder has yet to say whether he will permit the states to 
sidestep federal marijuana law, although he told the National 
Association of Attorneys General last week that the department 
expected to issue a policy "soon."

In 2009, Mr. Holder gave leeway to states, including Colorado, to 
allow cultivation and sales of medical marijuana following the 
passage of ballot initiatives. Lawmakers in Colorado and Washington 
have asked for federal guidance on whether they will be allowed to 
proceed in the same manner with recreational marijuana.

"We're still in the process of reviewing both the initiatives that 
were passed," said Mr. Holder in response to a question from Colorado 
Attorney General John Suthers.

In the meantime, Colorado and Washington policymakers are moving to 
establish regulations for recreational marijuana cultivation, 
distribution and sales. Voters in both states passed measures in 
November allowing recreational marijuana use for those 21 and older - 
the first states in the nation to do so.

A Colorado task force last week signed off on several implementation 
measures, including a 15 percent excise tax as well as separate 
marijuana tax; a limit on how much marijuana may be purchased in one 
transaction; and rules allowing out-of-state visitors to purchase 
marijuana, known as "marijuana tourism."

The state legislature must finalize regulations before adjourning in 
May, and refer any proposed tax increases for voter approval on the 
November ballot.

Signers of anti-pot letter include former drug czars Barry McCaffrey, 
John P. Walters, Robert L. DuPont and Carleton E. Turner; and former 
DEA administrators Robert C. Bonner, Karen Tandy, Asa Hutchinson, 
Donnie Mitchell, Thomas A. Constantine, Jack Lawn, Francis Mullen, 
Peter B. Bensinger, and John Bartels.
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