POLITICS

Barney Frank, Ron Paul Urge Obama To Respect Colorado, Washington Marijuana Laws

11/14/2012 02:06 pm ET

Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are urging President Barack Obama to "respect the wishes of voters in Colorado and Washington" who voted to legalize marijuana.

"We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom," Frank and Paul wrote in a letter to Obama. "We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states."

Frank and Paul presented the new marijuana laws as a sort of challenge to "those who disagree with us," noting opponents "should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test."

Both Frank and Paul are ardent supporters of marijuana legalization. In 2011, the two pushed legislation to end the federal ban on marijuana and let the states decide on legalization.

Frank previously criticized Obama for raids of medical marijuana dispensaries in states where its use is legal, calling the crackdown a "grave mistake" and "bad politics."

Both Frank and Paul are retiring from Congress at the end of this year.

Read the full text of their letter to Obama below:

Dear Mr. President,

We urge you to respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following their states’ laws with regard to the use of marijuana.

We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom. We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states.

Respect for the rights of states to set policies on those matters that primarily affect their own residents argues for federal noninterference in this case, as does respect for the wishes of the voters – again, on matters that primarily affect those in the relevant electorate. Additionally, we believe that scarce federal resources – law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and penal – should not be expended in opposition to the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington, given the responsibility of all federal officials to find ways to withhold unwise or unnecessary expenditures.

We believe that respecting the wishes of the electorates of Colorado and Washington and allowing responsible state authorities to carry out those wishes will provide valuable information in an important national debate. Our request does not mean any permanent waiver of the ability of the federal government to enforce national laws should there be negative consequences of these state decisions – which we do not believe are at all likely – and thus we have as a result of these two states’ decisions a chance to observe in two states the effect of the policy that we continue to believe would be wise for the country as a whole. Those who disagree with us should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test.

Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources – these we believe are many strong reasons for you to defer to the state decisions, and we believe that even those who do not share our view that personal liberty should dictate this result should have no objection to your acting on these principles in this case.

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