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Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal Feb. 2

In general, we believe the federal government holds too much power over the lives of Americans and believe in stronger rights for individual states to make decisions.

One example of an area in which Washington, D.C., in our view, wields too much power over states is legalization of marijuana.

Why is it the federal government’s business if, say, the state of Iowa passes a medical cannabis law or the states of Colorado and California decriminalize pot for recreational use?

It shouldn’t be.

Legalized marijuana, a $7.9 billion business in 2017, is supported by 61 percent of Americans, according to a Pew Research Center poll released earlier this month. Thirty states have legalized the drug in some form (eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes). At least another dozen states will discuss marijuana legalization this year.

However, marijuana remains an illegal Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

This issue is in the news today because Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month announced he was rescinding an Obama-era policy limiting prosecutions for sale of pot in states where marijuana is legal. Sessions said future prosecutions will be up to individual U.S. attorneys.

To what end and for what purpose is the federal government clearing the way for a crackdown on pot?

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Garrett, R-Virginia, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate federal criminal penalties for anyone engaged in state-legal marijuana activity. That sounds like something Congress should pass and President Trump should sign.

The recent Justice Department announcement is, in our view, heavy-handed overreach by the federal government into an area best left to the states. We aren’t advocating for legalized recreational marijuana use in this state ourselves, but we do believe Iowans should be left alone by Washington to make this decision for Iowa.

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