House members seek to ease federal marijuana laws, reduce cocaine sentences

While the bill eliminates marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances, it would maintain the prohibition on the movement of marijuana across state lines. The bill, H.R. 2306, would allow people to grow and sell the drug within states that make these activities legal.

"Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources and an intrusion on personal freedom," Frank said. "I do not advocate urging people to smoke marijuana; neither do I urge them to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke tobacco; but in none of these cases do I think prohibition enforced by criminal sanctions is good public policy."

Frank and Paul are joined on the bill by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

The second bill, H.R. 2316, would allow some prison sentences related to the possession of controlled substances containing cocaine base to be retroactively reduced according to guidelines in the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. The bill, from Rep. Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.), finds that reduced sentences would save taxpayer money and encourages sentencing courts to use Fair Sentencing Act guidelines to reduce prison terms.

Scott's bill specifically allows courts to use the guidelines if sentencing has not occurred, even in cases involving people convicted of a crime that took place before the guidelines were approved.