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U.S. gov seeks answers to clashing marijuana laws

Posting in Government

The differences between state and federal drug laws have caused issues for the U.S. government in establishing business regulations for the sale of marijuana, but efforts have begun this week to sort out the mess.

James Cole, a deputy attorney general, told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the Justice Department (DoJ) is working with Treasury officials and financial regulators to clarify the legal standing of banks and businesses over the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Growers, sellers, and banks that process transactions for the drug -- recreationally and medically -- have been left confused due to conflicts between state and federal drug laws, and now a set of hearings has been established to ease the tension.

Cole said the Obama Administration is "dedicated" to enforcing federal law, but current laws can hinder those working legally in approved marijuana sale states -- and so the U.S. government is looking to individual states for regulation solutions.

Banks, security providers and landlords can all be prosecuted for racketeering, money laundering and trafficking marijuana under current federal laws, which has underscored "persistent uncertainty" in approved states, according to committee chairman Senator Patrick J. Leahy.

Cole said that the DoJ would go after providers who try to sell marijuana to children or across state lines while states maintain individual, "robust" regulation policies, but Republican Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa believes that broad legalization of the drug would have "disastrous" consequences for health and could violate international agreements.

As noted by the New York Times, critics have said the DoJ's policy "was another example of the Obama administration's picking which laws to enforce and which to disregard." Advocates say that fresh legislation may help reign in drug cartels.

Washington and a further 19 states have legalized the drug for medical and recreational use.

Via: The New York Times

Image credit: Flickr

— By on September 10, 2013, 7:19 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure