NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) has been one of the leading advocates of marijuana reform in Congress. He has urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to remove marijuana from "Schedule 1" of the Controlled Substances Act. His tough questioning of Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart has been viewed on YouTube more than a quarter of a million times. Proposed legislation includes the "Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act" which would repeal a little known provision of federal law that requires the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), informally known as the U.S. Drug Czar, to "take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use" of marijuana or any Schedule I drug for medical or non-medical use. He spoke with TheStreet by telephone last week.
TheStreet: Rather than pushing for marijuana to be legal at the federal level, you believe each state should determine what it wants to do individually with regard to marijuana laws. Why is that?
Rep. Cohen: Well, because that's what we do with alcohol, and I don't know that the federal government has ever taken a position that it should-- except by Constitutional amendment, prohibit or allow any type of substance like that. I guess we do with drugs, we make certain drugs, FDA would have to approve them for use. But generally, the states make determinations on criminal laws, and...recreational drugs.
TheStreet: And what is your position, I mean, should a 20-year-old or 18-year-old or 16-year-old, for that matter, be able to walk into a store and buy marijuana?