Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jul 2014
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Page: 6A
Copyright: 2014 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Mark K. Matthews


Washington - Concerned that federal policies toward marijuana usage in
states that have legalized the drug often are "at odds with one
another," the four U.S. senators from Colorado and Washington state
are asking the White House to intervene and establish "consistent and
uniform" guidelines across the administration.

In a letter dated Monday, the senators expressed frustration with what
they saw as conflicting messages coming from various federal agencies.
And they urged Attorney General Eric Holder and Denis McDonough, the
White House chief of staff, to help develop a single policy that would
respect the rights of their states to regulate the fledgling industry.

"Without such guidance, our states' citizens face uncertainty and risk
the inconsistent application of federal law in Colorado and Washington
state, including the potential for selective enforcement actions and
prosecution," they wrote.

It was signed by U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado,
and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Both states have
legalized marijuana sales for recreational use.

As an example of the federal disconnect, the senators cited recent
actions taken by the Bureau of Reclamation, which provides water to
huge swaths of the western United States.

"Under the Bureau's interpretation of its legal duty, it 'will not
approve the use of Reclamation facilities or water in the cultivation
of marijuana,' and reclamation facilities are required to notify the
Department of Justice of any such use," they wrote.

The bureau's policy contrasts with what they see as a relatively
hands-off policy advocated by the Justice Department.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation said the agency simply was
following federal guidelines.

"Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is still illegal,"
said Pete Lucero, the spokesman. And until told otherwise, he said,
the Bureau of Reclamation would continue as it has.

White House officials, meanwhile, did not respond to a request seeking

Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the pro-cannabis Marijuana Policy
Project, said the push for a cohesive federal policy was laudable, but
that the marijuana industry wasn't alone in wanting consistent answers
from the administration on an issue.

"You probably could envision the same letter coming from Arizona and
Texas regarding immigration," he said.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D