Marijuana may afford Rep. Jared Huffman common ground with conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Huffman, the liberal Democrat representing Northern California's pot-rich Emerald Triangle, said he has engaged two other freshmen lawmakers on the idea of letting states, not the federal government, set rules for the intoxicating plant.

"These are people that I'll disagree with most of the time," Huffman said, observing that pot is an issue ripe for bipartisan harvest.

Huffman declined to identify the two Republicans, but he said one is a tea party member from Florida, the other an ultra-conservative from Houston.

Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot in November, and California is among the 18 states that allow medical marijuana (not including Texas or Florida).

Federal law classifies marijuana as a addictive drug with no accepted medical use, like heroin and LSD.

Huffman and the two Republicans want the feds to butt out and let states "call the shots" on marijuana.

They come, however, from different perspectives.

California was the first state to approve medical marijuana in 1996, and cities and counties continue to struggle with the conflict between state and federal law, especially in rural North Coast areas where it's a major cash crop.

The Texas and Florida congressmen, confident their states will uphold pot prohibition, see it as a states' rights issue.

"They don't like the idea of the federal government pre-empting their policy," Huffman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.