PanAm Podcast: Paul Armentano of NORML on Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has been at the forefront of the fight to end the Drug War, and end federal law which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, in the same category as such substances as heroin. NORML deputy director Paul Armentano recently jointed PanAm Post English editor David Unsworth to discuss Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent decision to use federal resources to target states that have legalized marijuana.

Armentano sees an immediate and real political fallout for Trump and the GOP in the wake of this decision, and takes the Republicans to task for approving Sessions’ nomination, despite his history of draconian views on drug policy.

Former presidential candidate Ron Paul recently called for Trump to fire Sessions, arguing that his new war on marijuana contradicts the principles of states’ rights and federalism.

While Armentano is encouraged by polling data that shows a growing appetite in both parties for legalization of marijuana, he is discouraged that key figures in the Republican Congressional leadership have continued to hold up bills in committees, and prevent floor votes, for legislation in the works that would remove marijuana’s Schedule I classification, and end federal persecution of the states on this issue.

House Resolution 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, is one such piece of legislation, and, in conjunction with the 10th Amendment, would leave marijuana public policy matters to the states, and prohibit the use of federal resources to target companies or individuals in states such as Colorado, Washington, and California, that have legalized recreational marijuana, as well as fostered a booming, tax-paying marijuana industry.

Armentano also points to a recent bill passed in Vermont, and soon to be signed by Republican Governor Phil Scott, as a milestone for marijuana legalization efforts. Whereas, all previous eight states had passed their legislation via referendums, Vermont marks the first case where a state legislature and governor have taken the step of legalizing recreational marijuana.

Ultimately, politicians on both the left and the right, are still standing in the way of the will of the people on this issue. In the meantime, NORML will be a leading advocate for allowing drug policy decisions to be made on the state, rather than the federal level, and they will continue to encourage public policy which treats drug use as a public health, rather than a criminal justice matter.

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