Senate Hearing on Federal-State Marijuana Law Conflict

Conflicts Between State and Federal Marijuana Laws — follow this link for the live webcast. Also live on

Today (Tuesday) at 2:30 pm Eastern, 1:30 Central, 11:30 am Pacific.

Please limit comments on this post to discussion of, and reporting on, the hearing and related items.

If you missed it live, you can watch a replay here.

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59 Responses to Senate Hearing on Federal-State Marijuana Law Conflict

  1. N.T. Greene says:

    So, I wonder if Kevin knows that you’re supposed to provide evidence and not logical fallacies. His bit on the CSA can be summarized as such: “It’s important because marijuana is bad and if we legalized it there would be a market for it and that would be bad. The CSA has not been used by the government to go after low-level offenders…” blah blah blah this is nothing new and if he’s reading this word for word I am hoping he will be met with blank stares from the panel, because this stuff is getting tired.

    …sorry to be a little ranty here, I have to work through the live hearing and won’t be able to post about this until well after it. I can still hope for the best, right?

    (Also: Pete, until about five minutes ago your site was down.)

    • Pete says:

      Thanks. Yes, I was getting a bit concerned about whether the site would be back up in time – a problem with the service provider, but they seem to have fixed it.

  2. claygooding says:

    Sabet must have hired three writers or copy/pasted a lot of the stuff in that written testimony,,and most of it pure bullshit,,especially his attempt to justify keeping marijuana schedule 1 even though it has medical uses.

    Question #8. Will the DoJ remove marijuana arrests from the federal grants program funding law enforcement and fueling 800,000+ arrests yearly.

  3. darkcycle says:

    Head spinning….mind numb. His “Defacto legalization for Kids” and “rising incidences” of marijuana “poisonings” made my entire ability to process shut down.
    I suppose if you’re gonna lie to professional liars, you gotta go big.

  4. Mike Parent says:

    Senator Leahy will be prepared and will grill Sabet while he’s testiLYING

    • claygooding says:

      I saw a report that Franklin will be front row center behind Sabet in the gallery,,any chance of him bitch slapping Sabet every time he lies?

      I hope the Sheriff from WA can speak to Franklin for advice,,not to sure how any of the invited witnesses are considered knowledgeable about MMJ efficacy,,hoping Dr Gupta is also present in the gallery,,won’t know until showtime.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Mr. Leahy is a huge unknown in this thing. He really is a new player and coming into the game at the top level makes him unique. I guess by the end of the week we’ll know if he’s friend or foe. My fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best.

  5. Howard says:

    David Frum’s puff piece on his good friend Sabet (shill alert);

    A quote from Frum;

    “It’s important to appreciate that “medical marijuana” is a laughable fiction”.

    How in the world, in 2013, can anyone made an idiotic statement like that? And it appears, according to Sabet’s written testimony, that he’s retreated from his fairly recent grudging admission that cannabis is medicine (but not smoked or used in its ‘crude’ form!! No!). He’s back to scare quotes…(facepalm).

    How do you ‘learn’ someone that it’s impossible to move forward when they keep putting one foot behind the other? Or, to put it another way, that it’s hard to move at all (or see clearly) when your head and your feet are shoved up your derriere?

    Fortunately I start my work day early and will be able to watch the hearing live on C-SPAN. I’ve already vowed to my wife that I’ll breathe deeply and not throw anything at the teevee (certain objects have already been cleared from the viewing area).

    • B. Snow says:

      Key words here are – “Be afraid of Big Marijuana”.

      I suppose he’s talking about that “Diego Pellicer” crap, I now this is a topic that people (Like, Judge Jim Gray) have been against = the advertising of marijuana in general.

      And this ‘Jamen Shively’ character is (likely) just that = *a character*, I wouldn’t put this past the prohibers & professional-rehabers – to have a hand up his butt.

      Using him, Puppeting him as a proponent of this “*Scary* – Big marijuana”. (Fully intending to make people think “big tobacco”) and be scared of the “Spectre” of that possibility…
      That they’re actively trying to force a wedge between people in the legalization effort – kinda like they did with the last MJ Ballot Initiative in California.

      I have to wonder if People Like Judge Gray would fall for this obvious tactical move on the part of these “third way” clowns? = AKA, another way to keep raking in money on other people’s suffering & unnecessary “Drug Treatment”…
      Because fining people civilly for a victimless “moral crime” is too lenient? And this nonsense that making it legal = may as well be – stuffing it down the children’s throats?? REALLY???

  6. Frank W says:

    Just tuned in according to above link and all I see is about Chinese economy…wha…..?

  7. Frank W says:

    never mind it’s up

  8. DdC says:

    c-span3 its on and its ugly. Why is Gross Grassly there? Reverse engineering. Pot is bad cause its illegal. Its illegal cause its bad. Why is it bad cause its illegal. No need of hearings. That’s simple enough for a drug worrier to understand. Maybe not sabetage… Now blame Obama for being too liberal and not busting those heathen states. I am so ashamed of this country. Someone nuke us please! This is sickening. 116% increase from marijuana driving drugged deaths in CO, more kids to poison control centers? wtf? Such liars should never be given public speaking spots. When will the liars ever be held accountable? What is the point of government if they rely on lies to make policy? I’m giving up my citizenship and becoming a citizen of the world. This country sucks!

    Still appeasing the CSA.

    • Frank W says:

      Grassley’s snake oil pitch tipped me off we might have a bit of a stacked deck… as usual with the gov’t on this subject.

  9. darkcycle says:

    Feed must be pretty busy. It stops and starts so much I can’t follow it. I’ve missed at least half of Cole’s testimony so far.

    • DdC says:

      It’s on TV c-span3 comcast cable ch.110..

      Such apologists. Oh we’re sorry and ask their forgiveness in not letting the old dung worrier dogs speak? Wimps. I think this is so Un-American they might as well uncover their swastika’s. No one would even blink.

  10. thelbert says:

    all governments suck. some even worse than “ours”. i just wish politician breath could cure powdery mildew. then, there would be a use for them.

  11. Pete says:

    The fact that the Department of Justice admitted that a regulated marijuana business is better than a black market is a big step for them.

    • DdC says:

      I agree, sorta strange to hear the feds make positive points. Still ugly. Plus there are no black market cartels outside of prohibition. Drug worriers cause the black market and harm to citizens using. That is why their lies are actually weapons doing harm to citizens and that point is muted with this diversionary crap.

    • darkcycle says:

      It’s a monumental step for the Senate to allow DISCUSSION of legalization. Never mind seeing Suits from Justice saying potentially positive things… there is a huge upheaval happening right before our very eyes.

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      They also admitted, pretty explicitly, that they know they’ll be laughed out of court if they try to preempt.

      Wow, two big steps. Frankenstein walks!

      • N.T. Greene says:

        The real irony is that if they brought up a suit they could not benefit from either outcome. A loss would undo the CSA almost entirely, and a win would result in total chaos in terms of dealing with the extant systems.

        Funny how they’re suddenly backing away from all this stuff. I wonder if the justices would see this problem and shelve the case if it came up…

  12. DdC says:

    The 20+- million users in the US should march on DC and demand it be removed as a controlled substance strictly on scientific definitions of the CSA. ConPromising with Insanity does not make it sane.

  13. jean valjean says:

    cole says the irs will still be free to screw over dispensaries on deductions making business unviable

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      And Cole certainly did not address the crux: if dispensaries are, ipso facto, “criminal enterprises” then their adherence to state law is irrelevant under the “Eight Priorities.”

      Ruther large loophole for the DEA to drive evidence trucks through!

  14. jean valjean says:

    the sheriff speaks. eat that grassley!

  15. jean valjean says:

    kevin sabet: the lies just flow as smooth as shit from a goose

    • darkcycle says:

      That smarm and ability took look you straight in the eye while dissembling has made Kevvie the man he is. He’s not JUST a liar…he’s a consummate liar. Smooth and accomplished.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Mr. Sabet is like a stream of bat’s piss, shining out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.

      • claygooding says:

        He is an eloquent piece of bovine excrement. I had to mute him or search for a sick bag,,a big admission by the DoJ that shutting down any state program will only result in a worse scenario than already exists.
        The Sheriff said it,,the war on drugs is a failure and what pissed me off was the committee didn’t even try to say it wasn’t a failure,,,what does it take to fix it if it can be fixed because no laws have changed yet to even slow the war on marijuana down.

  16. Matthew Meyer says:

    I’m really appreciating Sheriff Urquhart’s testimony. I’m sure Neill Franklin is proud.

  17. jean valjean says:

    who is the crazy looking woman behind sabet nodding manically at everything he says. maybe his mom?

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      We were just laughing about her vibra-nods and writhing fingers…I’d love to know who she is also!

    • DdC says:

      Urquhart was good. It looks like this very large black woman behind him has a bladder infection. Looks like Grubbs Barthwell trying not to scream reefer madness.

    • B. Snow says:

      IDK, but that bitch was driving me bananas, looked like she had some nanny-think form of Tourette’s.

      Kev’s was almost as bad, half in the camera – smirking & giving Finlaw the stink-eye while was talking…

      Grassley didn’t even seem to know what he was reading, and repeated himself, “What about the chitlins?” & Other shit everyone in the room has already heard 100+ times*

      Cole & Urquhart, made it clear – you can complain the regulations let people do something the nanny’s think is “bad” & there were audits that were problematic. But, No regulation (as there currently is in many places) would be and/or is obviously worse! (And if/when they clear up the banking & tax issues those audits might have a chance of going as there supposed to…

      Until then there will be problems. And the continued “we reserve the right to renege on all of it”, Isn’t going to lend to people playing along with regulations, like all the people that got burned after the 2009 memo/guidance/etc. They need those clear metrics and real legalization or withdrawal from the stupid 40 year old Nixon Single Convention treaty.

      That was “our” (the U.S.’s) doing, we pressured to get the rest of the world to follow along. We should be able to say to the other signatories – “Okay, that doesn’t work, And we’re done trying to make it work in perpetuity…”

  18. Pococurante says:

    I love that no one gives Sabet any respect. The times they have changed…

  19. mtlawnfan says:

    That was hard to watch. “Dr.” Sabet spouts shit and doesn’t get called on it. Why am I not surprised?

    4,000 joints in Denver was more like 600.

    • claygooding says:

      They were big joints and kev is so used to enhancing statistics 600 sounded more like a beach party than a protest. If he had reported the true numbers to anything he blathered his head would implode.

      PS:expect to see drive by thumbs down all over this site soon.

  20. Dante says:

    Readers Digest Version:

    Lies, fear-mongering, and more lies. Oh, and for God’s sake won’t somebody please save the Cheeeeeeeeeeeelllldruuuuuun?

    Some things never change.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      If people really cared about the children they would insist on banning tackle football in our schools. Proven to cause brain damage, permanent life changing physical injury, and is a “gateway” to steroids abuse.

      • Windy says:

        And, if people REALLY cared about the children, they’d advocate for cannabis use for those children and adults who are already brain damaged by repeated (even light) blows to the head, regardless the source of those blows (football, soccer, falls, whatever), since cannabis promotes neurogenesis, before the damage accumulates to the point it causes serious problems in the lives of those who’ve had concussion(s).

        • Duncan20903 says:

          I dunno, that may have to wait for the day the human race finally gets the average IQ into triple digits.

  21. Tony Aroma says:

    Could somebody tell me the point of this hearing? I watched the whole thing, and it seems to me its purpose was to clarify the latest DOJ memo (subject to change at any time, of course). Now that the memo’s been clarified, is that it? Everybody’s satisfied and we’re done with all this marijuana stuff for now? Or was this hearing a prelude to something else?

    • Howard says:

      TA, I think one point of the hearing is that there was a hearing at all. Having said that, I’m tired (like everybody else) of the wretchedly slow process cannabis law reform continues to endure. After watching the hearing I’m reminded why I haven’t watched C-SPAN in a very long time. The ungodly churn of these meetings. The overly parsed descriptions and discussions. I wish, just once, one of these meetings would erupt into a full on brawl like they sometimes do in Taiwan or South Korea. Punches thrown, spitting, hair-pulling, tables and chairs knocked over would put some life into these damn things. And maybe something just might get done.

      “Is that it?” is a very good question. I’d say there’s more “it” coming of course. But I have no idea what that might be. I know one thing: I’m getting older by the day and my already thin patience is getting thinner…

  22. Servetus says:

    Kevin Sabet never questions his talking points, making him one of the most gullible people ever to stalk the prohibition business. One example is where Sabet says a big percentage of kids in Colorado caught with pot claim it originated from medical dispensaries.

    It’s very unlikely a child could buy herb directly from a medical dispensary, so the pot would need to come through an intermediary. However, it’s also improbable any intermediary would reveal the true source of his product for security reasons, so the seller is likely to misrepresent his source to his customers, perhaps by claiming the weed came from a dispensary, when in fact it might come from an unregistered grow op, or from Mexico.

    It’s also likely that a kid under the duress of a marijuana arrest is going to protect his or her drug connection; so the kid will act to divert attention away from the seller by blaming some stranger or dispensary as primary sources of the contraband.

    The reliability of child testimonies has always posed a problem for the law. For example, inquisitors considered a child’s testimony to be so unpredictable they assigned it a fractional number based on the child’s age. A really young child might be assigned the fraction 1/8, so it would take seven more child testimonies of the same type to add up to a whole number, at which point the testimony could be taken as seriously as that of a single adult.

    There are obviously better ways to extract information from children, but Kevin Sabet and his minions would never anticipate this problem. They’re in too big a hurry to condemn marijuana and medical dispensaries for them to do any serious thinking or fact checking.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Another point to consider is that popular usage of the word medical as a modifier for marijuana has made that word the semantic equivalent of words like dank, bomb, hydro, B.C. Bud, etc without any attachment to the medicinal utility of cannabis.

  23. claygooding says:

    It is definitely going to take some prohib legislatures losing their seats to impress on congress that sitting on their hands is no longer an option.
    It would be sweet if Iowa cannaphiles would start trying to find a replacement for Grassley,,he has been a thorn in any reform bill ever run through that committee.
    They talk traffickers moving marijuana out of legal states being open for prosecution but what about the tourist with a few ounces going home from vacation and stopped by Kansas police,,will the feds step in and follow her receipts back to legal stores and seize everything w/no arrests like they have been the MMJ raids? I know limits were to be set but if it takes the DoJas long to set the limits as it did to layout 8 rules for states to follow we may all be teaching our replacements our favorite quips.
    The committee failed to even mention the central conflict created by keeping marijuana schedule 1 regardless of science when it is a medicine and until they end that lie it is drug war on.

    • claygooding says:

      after rerunning the dog and pony show through my mind one more time I recalled Leahy saying something about moving cannabis to schedule 2 so doctors could prescribe it,,it was as he was looking at his papers in front of him and spoke at about half volume,,no one jumped up and down about it in the hearing and that is why I didn’t catch it,,I would expect Grassley to blow a cork and Sabet to clutch his chest hollering for Martha but now I would like to hear the discussions behind office doors on that subject.
      Due to worn condition of recording device I was issued it may have been the Senator from CT that said it,,regardless no one raised a finger about it in the hearing.

  24. Howard says:

    Today’s hearing was just another bend in the road — the road toward the end of cannabis prohibition. Yes, Kevin Sabet got in his dire warnings of gummy bears ‘poisoned’ with cannabis. He got in his digs about Big Marijuana seeking to enslave future generations of children with dreaded addiction. But his arguments are withering (really they are).

    Finlaw and Urquhart were calm and assured. They admitted there are issues that are still being resolved. All this re-legalized cannabis stuff is a work in progress. They were deferential to a fault, but I can’t fault them too much for that.

    I’m surprised some of the old croaks on the committee didn’t just die right there. Their squeaky old voices just don’t have the gravitas against this movement anymore. At one time they did, but no more fellas, sorry. They are still a bump in the road. But one that can, and will, be circumvented.

    Again, just another bend in the road — forward.

  25. Jean Valjean says:

    Kevin the earnest Baha’i should read the web site of his very own University of Florida Baha’i Society, paying close attention to the last sentence:

    “What are the Baha’i teachings regarding the use of alcohol and/or drugs?
    Baha’is are forbidden from consuming alcoholic beverages or drugs of any kind. With regards to alcohol, Baha’u’llah writes “alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body.” Use of alcoholic beverages or drugs is permissible in the treatment of illness when prescribed by a “competent and conscientious physician.”

    • N.T. Greene says:

      I’m sure Kevin’s bartender has a PhD in Mixology.

      I wonder if that counts. Pardon the ad hominem, I thought it was a funny joke at the time… and I’m willing to bet the guy, for all his idiotic zeal, has a terrible secret or two.

  26. DdC says:

    Cannabis Culture ‏@CannabisCulture
    Seven Questions the ‘Senate Cannabis Committee’ Should Ask the Obama Administration

    Tweets from Senate Hearing on Cannabis (linx)

    Russ Belville ‏@RadicalRuss
    ☛Senators seem to want to talk to the sheriff in Seattle and lawyer in Denver more than the rehabitionist KevinSabet

    Dr. Bronner’s Soaps ‏@DrBronner
    ☛Everyone part of the change on cannabis in the USA should check out and be proud we’re getting results.

    Adam Eidinger ‏@aeidinger
    ☛Are you as glued to Senate Marijuana hearings as I am. History is being made it seems.

    Patrick Gallahue ‏@PatrickGallahue
    ☛Prohibition of marijuana has contributed to soaring prison population in US and disproportionately affected minorities – Sen Leahy

    Marijuana Majority ‏@JoinTheMajority
    ☛Sheriff who supports marijuana legalization testifying before US Senate. Says “war on drugs has been a failure.”

    ACLU National ‏@ACLU
    ☛HAPPENING NOW: Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws

    Drug Policy Alliance ‏@DrugPolicyNews
    ☛No good hashtag out there, but search “senate marijuana” and click on “All” to follow the conversation.
    ☛Public interest for today’s Senate marijuana hearing was so overwhelming they had to move the hearing room! And still couldn’t fit everyone!
    ☛Sherriff John Urquhart says “the war on drugs has been a failure.” Wants to be able to enforce new marijuana laws and respect will of voters
    ☛Sens. Whitehouse & Blumenthal are on the right track – the marijuana industry needs the same protections as other legitimate businesses.
    ☛Sheriff Urquhart: 35 years in law enforcement, 12 of which in narcotics, and he SUPPORTS legalization/regulation!

    ☛Thank you John Urquhart (Sheriff of King County, WA) for your remarks today! We couldn’t have said it better ‏@stopthedrugwar
    ☛King County Sheriff Urquhart: “My experience shows me the drug war has been a failure… I support I-502.
    ☛Sen Whitehouse asks about not prosecuting banks over marijuana business — Cole says only if a fed enforcement priority comes up.
    ☛Deputy AG Cole: Preemption lawsuit not a good idea because marijuana would be legal in CO and WA but with no regs.
    ☛Cole is done. Now for King County WA sheriff, a Colorado official, and Kevin Sabet.
    ☛Sen. Grassley: “Marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug….we could see a Starbucks of marijuana…”
    ☛”I don’t think federal prosecutors should be pursuing low level users of marijuana complying with [state law].”
    ☛The issue of access to banking services has been raised throughout the hearing, both by senators and by witnesses.
    ☛Kevin Sabet finds Deputy AG Cole’s recent guidance “disturbing,” says admin should stop Big Marijuana.

    Just Say Now ‏@JustSayNow
    ☛DOJ Claims It Is Trying to Address the Problem of Marijuana Banking
    ☛DOJ Admits Regulated Marijuana Industry can be Preferable to the Black Market

    ☛”For the 1st time in modern history, members of US Congress were testifying to the merits of cannabis legalization”

    MPP Marijuana Policy ‏@MarijuanaPolicy
    ☛WA sheriff: once marijuana is sold in regulated stores, people will no longer solicit marijuana from “sketchiest guy on the block”

    I think Neill’s enjoying this a lil too much… lol
    Thank You Neill, I wish you were there…
    Neill Franklin ‏@NeillFranklin
    ☛Sheriff Urquhart testifies, “The war on drugs has been a failure.”
    ☛DOJ to address banking problems in CO & WA with regulators for marijuana business owners. @SenatorLeahy hearing.
    ☛Sheriff Urquhart testifies, “Respect the will of the people. Law enforcement has let them down. They want to try a new way.”
    ☛I encourage more law enforcement leaders to follow the lead of Sheriff Urquhart. Time to end this failed policy. @TheIACP
    ☛I applaud the courage of Sheriff Urquhart. Thank you Sheriff!

  27. N.T. Greene says:

    I will admit that I get a sort of sick enjoyment out of seeing replies like this.

    I wonder what all the phone calls were about. Or if there really were any.

    I hope he went home and sat next to the phone, all excited, that he was gonna get some sort of recognition for being the town idiot… only to find that the phone did not ring at all. In fact, all the little people in the town tried their best to forget that he existed.

    …I should sleep, I go on maniacal rants when I don’t.

  28. curmudgeon says:

    Senator Grass Lie is the poster child for term limits. Get this moron out of the senate.

  29. NorCalNative says:

    Sabet lost me when he started complaining how legal cannabis violates international treaties.

    Years of watching the U.S. violate international law fighting the War on Terror ENDED ANY MORAL HIGH GROUND the U.S. may have once had in this area.

    Sabet is of the phenotype that makes a good living by preserving the status quo. The drug war is big business and Kevin’s just taking advantage of what’s being offered him. The Elite depend on this species to protect their wealth.

    Kevin’s job is to distract and delay and he’s smart enough to know he’s peddling dung.

  30. NorCalNative says:

    David Frum in his column: Be Afraid of Big Marijuana reveals the actual level of his knowledge about cannabis with this remark:

    “Nobody ever helped a troubled person by accepting lies at face value.”

    This is directed at the sad souls whose intellectual abilities are so dulled and useless that they ACTUALLY believe cannabis has medicinal value.”

    It appears that everything David knows he learned from his friend Kevin Sabet.

    David you’ve got the same internet I do, would it kill you to learn something about the endocannabinoid system? Just because they may not be teaching it in every medical school, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    For a life-long reader of David’s intellect the blind spot he has for cannabis makes me wonder why I ever thought he had a thinking mind. He used to be a conservative viewpoint I respected.

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