Marijuana legalization got a boost in Congress as a trio of rising stars in the Senate launched an effort to rewrite federal drug laws, the Los Angeles Times reports. The push to decriminalize at least the medical use of marijuana came from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Their move comes as another sign of how rapidly the politics of marijuana are shifting on Capitol Hill. Long an issue avoided by those with political ambitions, marijuana legalization now presents opportunities to make inroads with new voters.
More than half of the American electorate live in places where medical marijuana is legal, and millions of those voters are in states where recreational use is permitted. Under the proposal by the three senators, the federal prohibition on medical marijuana would be lifted. States that allow it would no longer be operating in defiance of federal law. “We as a society are changing our opinions on restricting people's choices as far as medical treatments,” Paul said. “We don't want doctors to be punished for simply trying to help people.” Though the Obama administration has ordered federal agencies to stop raiding legitimate medical cannabis enterprises, federal law continues to inhibit the medical marijuana industry.