Legal weed advocates believe victory is near in Washington
By Jonathan D. Salant
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
WASHINGTON — Proponents of legalizing marijuana descended on the U.S. Capitol in droves Wednesday, saying that their efforts are moving toward success.
“Public opinion is changing on this issue,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. “Congress is behind. We need to catch up.”
Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Combined, they brought about 400 people to Washington. “It’s about making sure they’re acting on the wishes of their constituents,” said one of them, Noah Mamber, a lawyer from Franklin Lakes.
Their agenda included Gaetz’s research act — he spoke at both press conferences –as well as bills preventing the federal government from enforcing its prohibition in states that have legalized the drug and allowing marijuana businesses to act just like everyone else with checking accounts and credit cards.
“It is basically inevitable that federal law will yield to the states,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the cannabis industry trade group.