DENVER — Congresswoman Diana DeGette Friday formally introduced legislation in Congress aimed at resolving the uncertainty around states legalizing marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level.
DeGette, a Denver Democrat, joined with Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman and other Republicans to introduce the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act”, which would exempt states where lawmakers or voters have legalized marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies the drug as a controlled substance.
“In Colorado we’ve witnessed the aggressive policies of the federal government in their treatment of legal medicinal marijuana providers,” DeGette said in a statement Friday. “My constituents have spoken and I don’t want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens.”
Coffman and other Republicans are backing the legislation because they see the issue as one of state’s rights.
“I voted against Amendment 64 and I strongly oppose the legalization of marijuana, but I also have an obligation to respect the will of the voters given the passage of this initiative, and so I feel obligated to support this legislation,” Coffman said in a statement.
Congressman Jared Polis, a Democrat who represents Boulder and probably has little choice but to support the measure, was one of 17 lawmakers who sent a letter Friday to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking him to respect the will of voters who approved marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington.
“Colorado officials and law enforcement are already working to implement the will of Colorado voters, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and officials in the administration to deliver clear guidance that ensures the will of the people is protected,” Polis said.
In the letter, lawmakers told Holder that they are concerned that the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to “threaten individuals and businesses” acting within the scope of their states’ laws on medicinal use of marijuana.