Representatives Ron Paul and Barney Frank today wrote to President Obama urging him to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following the states' laws with regard to the use of marijuana.
Representatives Paul and Frank are the main sponsors of legislation that would remove criminal sanctions for the use of marijuana at the federal level, but they noted in their letter to the President that there are many other reasons why he should defer to the voters of Washington and Colorado with regard to marijuana use. The Representatives cited respect for the rights of states to make decisions affecting their own people, respect for the wishes of the voters expressed in democratic elections, and the need to conserve federal resources by not expending them on investigations, arrests, prosecutions, trials and incarcerations.
The text of the letter is as follows:
November 13, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We urge you to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following their states' laws with regard to the use of marijuana.
We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom. We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states.
Respect for the rights of states to set policies on those matters that primarily affect their own residents argues for federal noninterference in this case, as does respect for the wishes of the voters -- again, on matters that primarily affect those in the relevant electorate. Additionally, we believe that scarce federal resources -- law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal -- should not be expended in opposition to the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington, given the responsibility of all federal officials to find ways to withhold unwise or unnecessary expenditures.
We believe that respecting the wishes of the electorates of Colorado and Washington and allowing responsible state authorities to carry out those wishes will provide valuable information in an important national debate. Our request does not mean any permanent waiver of the ability of the federal government to enforce national laws should there be negative consequences of these state decisions -- which we do not believe are at all likely -- and thus we have as a result of these two states' decisions a chance to observe in two states the effect of the policy that we continue to believe would be wise for the country as a whole. Those who disagree with us should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test.
Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources -- these we believe are many strong reasons for you to defer to the state decisions, and we believe that even those who do not share our view that personal liberty should dictate this result should have no objection to your acting on these principles in this case.
Rep. Ron Paul
Rep. Barney Frank