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Will Marijuana Ever Be Legal Under Federal Law?


Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon has been working to legalize marijuana since the 1970s.

Now that it's legal in several states, including Nevada, he predicts the federal government will soon change its laws. 

"The train has left the station," Blumenauer told KNPR's State of Nevada.

He predicted that in four years marijuana will be regulated like alcohol and states will be allowed to determine how to manage its sale.

Blumenauer said Nevada will play a leading role in influencing people's opinions about legalized marijuana because so many people visiting the city from around the country will see how the industry is successfully managed.

"Your success in moving this forward will be the first experience many people will have with a legal system," he said.

The congressman said that politicians who talk about legalizing marijuana no longer risk losing support. He said that  not supporting legalized marijuana is now the third rail of politics.

"There is a strong and growing movement of support," he said. "I think you will see it loom large in this election and I think you will never, ever see a president elected who isn't pro-cannabis."

He said there is strong support for recreational marijuana for adults and even more support for medical marijuana.

Blumenauer believes if the Trump administration were to crack down on legalized marijuana it would "settle the issue" once and for all.

But Blumenauer doesn't think the administration will touch the issue. The only exception is Attorney General Jeff Sessions who has been outspoken about marijuana.

“Sessions is out to lunch on this,” Blumenauer said.

He believes Sessions is "stuck in time" and "flat-out wrong" on the issue.

Blumenauer said there more than 40 bills are working their way through Congress currently that address all kinds of issues related to cannabis from the banking issue to doctors with Veterans Affairs being allowed to recommend it to veterans with PTSD.

In addition, Blumenauer said support for the changes is bi-partisan, a rare thing in Washington, D.C. 


Earl Blumenauer, congressman, Oregon

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.