As Senate Convenes Hearing on Pot, Advocates Cite Favorable Public Opinion


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today will hear testimony on conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws, reports the Detroit Free Press. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has questioned whether, at a time of severe budget cutting, federal prosecutions of marijuana users are the best use of taxpayer dollars. Dan Riffle of lobby group Marijuana Policy Project, said he hopes for a breakthrough that would lead to changes in federal banking laws, allowing marijuana sellers to accept credit cards and checks, not just cash.

That would do a lot to legitimize the nation's marijuana industry, safeguarding transactions from the risk of robberies and smoothing the route away from the black market and Mexico's drug cartels, Riffle said. “The elephant in the room is that we have an administration that's essentially working around federal law” to allow states to legalize marijuana, he said. “What we should do is just change federal law — just legalize marijuana.” With public attitudes bending toward legalization in the last three years and reaching a majority in March, those who favor legal weed say they've reached a watershed year — one like 1930 might have felt to those who welcomed the nationwide legalization of alcohol in 1933. The Pew Research Center says that for the first time, a majority of Americans — 52% — told pollsters they favored legalizing marijuana.

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