Marijuana laws: Colorado Rep. Diane DeGette introducing new federal marijuana law on state's rights

Colorado's Amendment 64 legalizes possession

WASHINGTON - A Colorado congresswoman is introducing new federal legislation that would allow states to pass their own laws on controlled substances.

"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," said Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colorado).

Earlier this month, Coloradans voted to approve Amendment 64. It allows adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. It also would allow people to grow as many as six marijuana plants in private, secure areas. Amendment 64 organizers said the new law will make authorities regulate marijuana like alcohol.

DeGette said the Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act would ensure that state laws regarding marijuana will not be preempted by the federal government.

“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,” said Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado).

Voters in Washington State also passed a law legalizing marijuana.

“Residents of Colorado and Washington have made it clear that the public is ahead of the federal government in terms of marijuana legalization,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon. “It’s time for Congress to pass legislation -- such as the ‘Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act’ -- that allows states to implement their own laws in this area without fear of federal interference.”

Colorado's Republican Attorney General has promised to help implement the pro-marijuana law passed by Colorado voters.

"Despite my strongly held belief that the 'legalization' of marijuana on a state level is very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution," Attorney General John Suthers said in a statement.

Suthers said he would ask the United States Department of Justice to make known its intentions regarding prosecution of activities sanctioned by Amendment 64, particularly large wholesale grow operations.

Several district attorneys in Colorado have announced they will start dropping charges in some minor marijuana cases.

"The 20th JD DA's office will dismiss all pending possession of MJ less than an ounce, and MJ paraphenalia [sic] cases, for defendants over the age of 21," said Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said on his Facebook page.

Denver prosecutors will no longer charge those 21 and older with less than an ounce and will review pending cases for possible dismissal, according to Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.

The full text of the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act” can be found here.