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No one argues for keeping marijuana illegal, but next step divides House panel

As Democrats focus on racial impact, Republicans argue for incremental steps

At a hearing on marijuana Wednesday, no one on the House subcommittee who helps write the criminal code spoke out in clear support of continuing the prohibition that has been part of federal law for decades.

“Personally I believe cannabis use in most cases is ill advised, but many things are ill advised that should not be illegal,” said California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, the panel’s acting ranking member.

There was little consensus, however, on the House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security about what Congress should do about marijuana remaining illegal under federal law even as states have moved to decriminalize or legalize it.

Democrats on the panel argued that the racial impact of decades of marijuana prosecutions should be part of any legislation, while Republicans argued for keeping the focus on removing barriers to state-sanctioned cannabis businesses.

“The collateral consequences of even an arrest for marijuana can be devastating,” said Subcommittee Chairwoman Karen Bass, a Democrat from California. “These exclusions create an often permanent second class status for millions of Americans. Like drug war enforcement itself, these consequences fall disproportionately on people of color.” [Read More @ Roll Call]

 

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