House Approves Blumenauer Amendment To Protect Cannabis Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  As national support for federal marijuana legalization continues to climb, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved important legislation to protect state, territory, and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), was approved 254–163 and would ensure legal cannabis programs in Oregon and dozens of other states, territories, and tribal lands are protected from Department of Justice intervention.

“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in our discriminatory past and have continued inflicting harm on communities of color. As the public’s views toward cannabis have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies follow suit and move toward restorative justice,” Lee said. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Reps. Blumenauer, McClintock, and Holmes Norton on this crucial amendment to protect the progress states, tribes, and territories have made toward ending the discriminatory war on drugs.”

A copy of the amendment approved Thursday by the House can be found here.

And here’s a video of Blumenauer speaking in support of the amendment today on the House floor.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard To Lead Landmark Bipartisan Marijuana Reform

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), along with Rep. Don Young (AK-AL), NORML, and other supporters, will hold a press conference introducing two bipartisan marijuana bills.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana as they choose, without federal interference.

The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019 would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice, and employment.

Details:

Day-of Contact: Lauren McIlvaine: (202) 713-6040

Thursday, March 7, 2019:

Who:

  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
  • Rep. Don Young (AK-AL)
  • Erik Altieri, Executive Director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

When: 11:00 AM ET

Where: House Triangle, U.S. Capitol

 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Introduces Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation Wednesday that would end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana. The proposal is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

The bill, titled the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving its legal status to the states, while maintaining the federal government’s authority to prevent trafficking of marijuana from states that have legalized it to those that have not. It would also provide grants to state and local governments to develop or expand expungement or record-sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions, and it would direct marijuana tax money to the Small Business Administration to provide loans to marijuana businesses owned and controlled by women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The proposal also allocates funds to marijuana-related public health and safety research. The full bill is available here.

Matt Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project commented, “This proposal is yet another sign that Congress is moving toward a major shift in U.S. marijuana policy. Senate leaders from both parties have now signaled their support for ending prohibition at the federal level and adopting a system that respects state laws regulating marijuana for medical and adult use. The debate is transitioning from whether marijuana should be legalized to how it should be legalized. There are still hurdles to overcome in Congress, just as there are for any other issue, but things are clearly headed in the right direction. A strong and growing majority of Americans think it is time to end marijuana prohibition, and states are moving quickly to develop their own marijuana policies. Members of Congress do not want to find themselves on the wrong side of history — or their constituents.”

Booker-Sanders-Casey Statement on CBO Score of Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) issued the following joint statement in reaction to the preliminary cost estimate of the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act issued by the Congressional Budget Office:

“We are glad to see the independent Congressional Budget Office recognize that the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act — which will help lower prescription drug costs for millions of Americans by allowing the safe importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other nations — will also save taxpayers $6.8 billion over the next ten years. In addition, our bill will help patients struggling with skyrocketing drug costs save money while ensuring critical consumer safety protections — and providing major benefits for American taxpayers. We hope this CBO score will propel Senate Republicans to act and quickly take up this cost- and life-saving measure.”

In February, Booker, Sanders, and Casey introduced the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act to help lower the rising cost of prescription drugs by allowing Americans to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada and other advanced countries.

The legislation would instruct the secretary of Health and Human Services to put forward regulations allowing wholesalers, pharmacies and individuals to import qualifying prescription drugs from licensed Canadian sellers. After two years, the secretary would have the authority to permit importation from countries in the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with standards for the approval and sale of prescription drugs that are comparable to those in the United States.

The bill includes detailed provisions outlining safeguards and consumer protections that ensure the safety of imported drugs, including FDA certification of foreign sellers, a clear definition of what drugs may be imported and supply chain security requirements. 

The DEA Has Failed To Eradicate Marijuana. Some Members Of Congress Want It To Stop Trying.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Drug Enforcement Administration is not having a great year.

The chief of the agency stepped down in April under a cloud of scandal. The acting administrator since then has courted ridicule for saying pot is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, and more recently he provoked 100,000 petition-signers and seven members of Congress to call for his head after he called medical marijuana “a joke.”

This fall, the administration earned a scathing rebuke from a federal judge over its creative interpretation of a law intended to keep it from harassing medical marijuana providers. Then, the Brookings Institution issued a strongly worded report outlining the administration’s role in “stifling medical research” into medical uses of pot.

Unfortunately for the DEA, the year isn’t over yet. Last week, a group of 12 House members led by Ted Lieu (D) of California wrote to House leadership to push for a provision in the upcoming spending bill that would strip half of the funds away from the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program and put that money toward programs that “play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people”: domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction efforts.

Congressman Calls For DEA Chief’s Removal After He Calls Medical Marijuana A ‘Joke’

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said Wednesday that acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg should be replaced after calling the notion of smoking marijuana for medical purposes a “joke.”

“Rosenberg is clearly not the right fit for the DEA in this administration,” Blumenauer said during a speech on the House floor Wednesday morning.

The acting agency chief made the comments to reporters earlier this month.

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”

Blumenauer hit back at this notion during his floor speech.

“What is a joke is the job Rosenberg is doing as acting DEA administrator,” he said. “He’s an example of the inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

Bernie Sanders Files Marijuana Bill In Senate

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders filed a Senate bill Wednesday that would allow states to decide whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana and decriminalize the drug at the federal level. It’s a sign the Democratic presidential candidate is willing to stake out a clear contrast on the issue with front-runner Hillary Clinton.

While some states have legalized pot, it remains illegal on the federal level.

“It’s a state and a federal issue. The federal issue is that we should remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act. That’s a federal decision,” Sanders told CNN. “The state decision is that we live in a federal system of government where issues like tobacco and alcohol are significantly regulated by the states. And I think that is a province of the states.”

3 Presidential Candidates Who Are Strongly Against Legalizing Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Let it be known that we’re still more than a year away from the 2016 presidential election, and the issues that will decide the election are still being felt out. However, with each day that passes it looks more and more plausible that marijuana and the federal government’s views on marijuana will play an increasingly important role in the election.

Why marijuana is a hot-button issue 
It’s not tough to understand why marijuana has become such a hot-button issue. Three well-respected national polls — Gallup, Pew Research Center, and General Society Survey — have all shown that a slim majority of respondents now have a favorable view of marijuana, with smaller, independent studies that have focused on swing states demonstrating that support for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is even higher. The people have spoken via polls, and more people than not want to see the federal ban on marijuana lifted.

But individual states aren’t sitting on their hands while the federal government weighs an eventual legalization or decriminalization of the currently illegal drug at some point in the future. Since 1996, 23 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana (as well as Washington, D.C.), with four states — Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Colorado — along with Washington, D.C. legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

 

What The Marijuana Lobby Could Offer Hillary Clinton

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Hillary Clinton says she has never smoked pot, not even as a bell-bottom-wearing undergraduate in the 1960s. Her husband’s administration went nuclear in the War on Drugs. During the 2008 campaign, she publicly opposed marijuana legalization.

But it’s now seven years later, and the marijuana industry isn’t selling baggies and answering beepers. It’s a $2.7 billion business—the fastest-growing in the United States—and one that operates without any legal sanction in four states, is decriminalized in 16 others, and is permitted for medical use in a few more.

And now people that are selling, growing, and, in some cases, using marijuana have money to burn. They want to give some of that green (not that, the other green) to politicians hungry for donations. But they want some answers first.

On Marijuana Policy, Congress Needs to Pick Up Where It Left Off

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Now that Congress has returned from its August recess, it’s time for members to debate and vote on the annual budget that will fund the federal government from October of this year through September of next year. And various marijuana amendments will be a part of these discussions.

Much has been made of the way same-sex marriage moved rapidly from unthinkable to inevitable to achieving the ultimate victory. But there’s another issue following a similar trajectory — marijuana legalization. As with marriage reform, the bulk of the action with marijuana legalization has been at the state level, with most members of Congress hesitant to express support until public opinion moves well past the tipping point. This is starting to change.

Until last year, neither chamber of Congress had ever passed any measure in support of reforming federal marijuana laws. That changed in May 2014 when the House, with 219 votes, passed a budget restriction that was intended to block the enforcement of federal marijuana laws for people and businesses acting in compliance with state laws that permit medical marijuana. That measure, sponsored by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), became law when it was included in the so-called “CRomnibus” in December 2014.