By PETE YOST, Associated Press
12:10 a.m. Sept. 10, 2013
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is facing criticism over its attempt to straddle the federal law that makes marijuana illegal and state laws that permit recreational use of the drug.
In the first congressional hearing since the administration announced a new, permissive enforcement policy, law enforcement and drug-prevention groups and their congressional allies see an opportunity to push back. The administration’s Aug. 29 announcement allows the two states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized – Colorado and Washington – to go their own way without federal interference as long as they implement strong enforcement systems.
“We are at a precipice,” said Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a drug prevention group. “We’re about to create Big Marijuana by allowing the commercial production, retail sales and mass advertising of this drug similarly to how we have had Big Tobacco for the last hundred years.”
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“I’ve long believed that imprisoning people because they decide to smoke marijuana, or help other people do that, is one of our worst public policies. It interferes with individual liberties; it spends an enormous amount of money on police, prosecution and prisons, and it has been enforced in the most discriminatory way, with class, race and age determining who is prosecuted and who is not.”