PORTLAND -- Oregon U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer held a town hall event in downtown Portland Sunday to discuss reforming marijuana laws on a state level, as well as a national level.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington has highlighted challenges the U.S. Dept. of Justice faces when handling state laws that conflict with national laws.

About 100 people gathered Sunday to hear Rep. Blumenauer s thoughts on the decriminalization of recreational marijuana.

Most Americans now feel that marijuana should be legalized, but an overwhelming majority say the federal government shouldn't interfere with what the states decide, Blumenauer explained. So we want to make sure that the federal government doesn't complicate something as this is being worked out.

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Blumenauer has brought together a group of lawmakers interested in reforming national drug policies, to work on an agenda for the newly convened 113th Congress.

I am quite confident in the next 10 to 15 years it will be legal, he said. But that's not the point; the point is the federal government shouldn't get in the way of what voters decide in Oregon, in Colorado, or anyplace else.

Although support for legalization has risen over the past 43 years, the public remains divided, with Democrats and young people mostly in favor, and Republicans and older Americans most likely to be opposed. People on both sides of the issue were present at Sunday s meeting.

Blumenauer said in any state where recreational marijuana is legal, it should be treated like alcohol and it should be taxed. He said the revenue can help reduce the deficit and fund addiction and dependency programs.

He first voted to decriminalize marijuana in 1973.


KGWReporter Erica Heartquist contributed to this report.

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