Two House lawmakers are urging President Obama not to interfere with recent state decisions to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) wrote to Obama Wednesday asking his administration not to prosecute residents of Colorado and Washington, where voters just passed ballot measures to legalize the drug.
"We believe that respecting the wishes of the electorates of Colorado and Washington and allowing responsible state authorities to carry out those wishes will provide valuable information in an important national debate," the members wrote.
"We have as a result of these two states’ decisions a chance to observe in two states the effect of the policy that we continue to believe would be wise for the country as a whole. Those who disagree with us should welcome the opportunity to put their theories to a test."
Paul and Frank, both retiring in January, noted that they have sponsored legislation that removes criminal penalties for marijuana use. Under current federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside heroin and ecstasy.
"Respect for the principles of democracy; respect for the states to make decisions on matters that primarily affect the residents of those states; the chance to conserve scarce federal financial resources — these we believe are many strong reasons for you to defer to the state decisions," Paul and Frank wrote.
Obama has come under fire for cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries in states like California and Colorado, where the use and sale of the drug is permitted in some cases.
He defended his administration's actions this spring.
"I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana," Obama told Rolling Stone, "and the reason is, because it's against federal law."