DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: A majority of Americans want each state to decide its own marijuana laws and don’t want federal interference with those that legalize cannabis.
A report released Monday by centrist think tank Third Way says 60 percent of American voters believe states should decide whether to legalize marijuana. And 67 percent of Americans want a new federal law that would make states that legalize medical or recreational marijuana “safe haven” from U.S. laws against cannabis, as long as the states have a strong regulatory framework.
Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana (although D.C.’s law still bans the sale of cannabis). Twenty-three states, as well as D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. But federal law continues to outlaw all uses of marijuana. The Obama administration issued guidance urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. But guidance isn’t law, and can be changed.
Third Way proposes a federal “waiver” system allowing a state to act outside of federal law on marijuana policy without fear of prosecution. Those states would have to show the federal government that a robust regulatory system was in place and be re-evaluated periodically.