When it comes to overhauling federal marijuana policy, young U.S. senators are running headfirst into the old guard, Politico reports. A high-wattage trio of junior senators — Democrats Cory Booker (NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and GOP presidential contender Rand Paul (KY) — is mounting an ambitious effort to have the federal government bless use of marijuana in the 24 places that have voted to legalize the drug for medical purposes. Their legislation would allow banks to handle transactions involving marijuana and force the federal government to recognize that marijuana has a medical use, rather than lumping it in with heroin and LSD.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is stacked with senior lawmakers, many of whom came to power during a tough-on-crime era of the drug wars that saw stiffer penalties for drug possession. “I'm probably against it,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “I don't think we need to go there,” added Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). “This is a more dangerous topic than what a lot of the advocates acknowledge.” Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he hadn't read the bill and that it would be months before it comes for a hearing — if ever. Still, Booker insisted, “We're going to win. It's not a question of if, the question is when.”