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Congressman asks feds to back off, let us deal with pot

Medical marijuana is packaged for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle. (AP photo)

Congressman Adam Smith is asking the U.S. Attorney General and top DEA administrator to “take no action” against anyone in our state who chooses to smoke marijuana for medicinal or personal use.

Smith is among 17 members of Congress who signed his name to a letter requesting that states be permitted to function as “laboratories of democracy.”

The letter points out “the tide of public opinion is changing, both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country.”

Here’s an excerpt:

The people of Colorado and Washington have decided that marijuana ought to be regulated like alcohol, with strong and efficient regulation of production, retail sales and distribution, coupled with strict laws against underage use and driving while intoxicated.

The voters chose to eliminate the illegal marijuana market controlled by cartels and criminals and recognized the disproportionate impact that marijuana has on minorities. These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments.

We believe this approach embraces the goals of existing federal marijuana law: to stop international trafficking, deter domestic organized criminal organizations, stop violence associated with the drug trade and protect children.

While we recognize that other states have chosen a different path, and further understand that the federal government has an important role to play in protecting against interstate shipments of marijuana leaving Colorado and Washington, we ask that your departments take no action against anyone who acts in compliance with the laws of Colorado, Washington and any other states that choose to regulate marijuana for medicinal or personal use.

The medical marijuana industry generated $1.7 billion in revenue nationwide last year, and is expected to grow to $8.9 billion by 2016, according to SeeChange Consulting Inc.

Washington’s Office of Financial Management estimates a fully functioning marijuana market could generate revenue as high as $1,943,936,000 over five fiscal years. Total state costs are estimated at $65,726,000 over that time period.

The state is planning on a $250 application fee and a $1,000 issuance fee for each marijuana licensee.

Washington’s marijuana measure takes effect December 6. The state has until December 1, 2013 to fully implement the recently-passed initiative.


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