Is the Obama administration softening its tone on marijuana prohibition? The evidence has been mounting for some time that the administration wants to deal differently with the issue, even as raids on medicinal clinics and suppliers continue. A recent interview with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adds to the evidence that the days of criminalizing recreational marijuana use are waning.
As reported by Talking Points Memo, in an interview with the Denver Post, Pelosi weighed in on the battle over legalization in Colorado, concluding it was time for Washington to get out of the way. “The state (Colorado) has spoken. The law has been passed,” Pelosi said in the interview. “There are issues with taxation and regulation, and we need to get on with it.”
Pelosi continued: “And in order to do that, there has to be a level of respect for the fact that if you are going to have recreational marijuana somebody is in business to do that and they have to have tax treatment in order for them to function as a business,” Pelosi said. “So how the state of Colorado interacts with the federal government on the taxation issues is something they have to work out, but I think they should.”
In politics, those are called, appropriately enough, smoke signals.
Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition will end as the revenue stream is clarified, and one way these issues are clarified is to work them out in the states. Which is where Colorado comes in. The state is in the midst of creating a regulatory structure designed to deal with an emerging marijuana marketplace. How that regulatory structure functions–which parts of the marijuana marketplace it favors over others, such as medical research and development for example, will help drive this conversation at the national level.
These efforts at the state are complimented by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who is a chief sponsor of a federal legalization measure. Pelosi is among the members of Congress who supports Polis’ efforts. Does that mean Congress will legalize marijuana anytime soon? No. But with Pelosi firmly and publicly behind both efforts in the state of Colorado and Polis’ efforts on the Hill, it means Washington is in a mood to deal.
photo courtesy of Leader Nancy Pelosi