Legal restrictions prohibiting the Office of National Drug Control Policy from researching marijuana legalization would be lifted, under legislation offered by Rep. Steve Cohen. The Tennessee Democrat's bill would also lift restrictions requiring the office to oppose any and all efforts to liberalize criminal laws associated with the plant.
"Not only is the ONDCP the only federal office required by law to oppose rescheduling marijuana even if it is proven to have medical benefits, but it is also prohibited from studying if that could be even be true," Cohen said in a statement. He added:
The ONDCP's job should be to develop and recommend sane drug control policies, not be handcuffed or muzzled from telling the American people the truth. How can we trust what the Drug Czar says if the law already preordains its position? My bill would give the ONDCP the freedom to use science - not ideology - in its recommendations and give the American people a reason to trust what they are told."
These restrictions were placed on the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the Reauthorization Act of 1998. Cohen is one of a couple dozen or so members of Congress pushing for decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.
And "West Wing" fans will also recognize the trouble federal officials can face in even raising questions about the current criminal prohibition of marijuana. In the 2001 episode, during an online chat, the surgeon general comments favorably on the legalization of marijuana. The controversy heightens when Ellie Bartlet - daughter of President Jed Bartlet - tells a reporter that her father would never fire the surgeon general.
Politix and cohen.house.gov.