Pubdate: Tue, 08 Apr 2014
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)
Copyright: 2014 Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
Note: Paper does not publish LTE's outside its circulation area
Page: A3


WASHINGTON - In January, President Barack Obama said reclassifying
marijuana and making it legal in any way "is a job for Congress."

"It's not something by ourselves that we start changing," Obama said
in an interview with CNN.

In February, 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives shot back
in a letter to the president, telling Obama he should use his
executive power to make the change on his own.

Caught in the middle are the more than 1 million Americans who use
marijuana for their physical and psychological ailments.

They don't like the situation, saying they face daily uncertainty
about whether they'll be able to get the drug they need or whether
they'll be arrested for possessing it.

"Without cannabis, I can't get out of bed," said Steph Sherer, the
founder and executive director of a group called Americans for Safe

On Monday, the medical pot users took their complaints to

Concluding a three-day conference in Washington, the group organized
200 medical marijuana advocates from 37 states - a collection of
patients, doctors, scientists, lawyers and others - for its second
annual lobbying day on Capitol Hill, lining up more than 300 meetings
with legislative offices.

Pot backers say Congress needs to get involved to resolve a growing
conflict between state and federal laws.

They expressed hope that change could be in the offing after Attorney
General Eric Holder told a House subcommittee Friday that the Obama
administration is ready to tackle the issue.

While stressing that "ultimately Congress would have to change the
law," Holder said, "I think our administration would be willing to
work with Congress if such a proposal were made." He's expected to
field questions on the topic again today when he appears before the
House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on oversight of the Justice

While Congress classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance with no
medical value, 20 states have passed laws allowing medical pot since
California became the first in 1996, and Florida is expected to vote
on the issue in November. Two states, Washington and Colorado, went
further in 2012, passing laws that allow all adults who are 21 and
over to smoke pot for recreational purposes.

But medical marijuana users say the state laws can easily be ignored
by federal authorities, who have the discretion and authority to
override them as they see fit.
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