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September 9, 2013

What questions should be central to Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on "Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws"?

Though perhaps overshadowed by foreign policy issues these days, on Tuesday September 10, 2013 at 2:30pm, as detailed at this official webpage, there will be a hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on “Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws.” Here is the official agenda/hearing list:

Panel I

  • The Honorable James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

Panel II

  • The Honorable John Urquhart, Sheriff, King County [Washington] Sheriff’s Office
  • Jack Finlaw, Chief Legal Counsel Office of [Colorado] Governor John W. Hickenlooper
  • Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., Co-founder and Director, Project SAM Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida

I am expecting and hoping that there will be written testimony from some or all of these witnesses posted via the Senate website within the next 24 hours, and I am planning to watch the webcast of the hearing (and perhaps even live-blog some of it at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform). 

Here at The Weed Blog one can see a whole bunch of very hard questions that might be asked of DAG Cole concerning federal policies and practices, which were set forth in a letter sent by the pro-reform group California NORML to Senator Dianne Feinstein.  I doubt many of these questions will be asked verbatim, but they provide an effective pro-reform perspectives on various ways in which state and federal marijuana laws, policies and practices operate at cross-purposes.

As the title of this post suggests, I am eager for readers of this blog to indicate what kinds of questions they might be most eager to see addressed in tomorrow's scheduled Senate hearing.

Cross-posted at  Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform.

September 9, 2013 at 06:47 PM | Permalink


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Here's one question for them: Since federal law always trumps inconsistent state law, in what realistic sense can there be a "conflict" between them that is not resolved in advance in favor of federal law?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 9, 2013 7:13:37 PM

I think you're right Bill. That's why they should remove marijuana from the CSA Schedule.

"It is one of the happy incidents of the Federal System that a single courageous state may, if it's citizens choose, serve as a laboratory , and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

S.C.J. Louis Brandeis 1932

Posted by: beth | Sep 10, 2013 11:31:44 AM

Excue me for not being law smart, but under what enumerated power in the Constitution does the CSA receive its ability to trump state law?

Posted by: albeed | Sep 10, 2013 8:24:14 PM

albeed --

Article VI, Section 2.

If you know of a single case that has found the CSA to be beyond Congress's power, please post the citation to it -- some very law-savvy legalizers have been looking for it for years. And, no, sorry, you don't get to declare that uniform case law is wrong because you are smarter than any court that has ever decided the question.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2013 10:31:52 PM

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