National Conference Of State Legislatures Endorses Resolution Calling For Marijuana To Be Descheduled

MASSACHUSETTS: The National Conference of State Legislatures has endorsed a resolution calling for marijuana to be removed from the US Controlled Substances Act. The plant and all of its organic constituents are classified under federal law as a schedule I controlled substance – the most restrictive categorization available.

Over three-quarters of legislators participating in this week’s legislative summit endorsed the resolution, which calls on federal lawmakers to amend the CSA so that each state can regulate cannabis how best it sees fit.

It states: [T]he National Conference of State Legislatures believes that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove cannabis from scheduling thus enabling financial institutions the ability to provide banking services to cannabis related businesses; and … acknowledges that … in allowing each state to craft its own regulations we may increase transparency, public safety, and economic development where it is wanted.”

Last year, the US Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a pair of petitions that sought to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law. In recent years, NORML has argued in favor of descheduling cannabis from the CSA rather than rescheduling it to a lower classification.

The Congressional Record: Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act

[Pages S4669-S4672]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. BOOKER:
  S. 1689. A bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for 
a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marihuana, and for 
other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. BOOKER. Madam President, I rise to talk about the Marijuana 
Justice Act--a bill I introduced today that would end the Federal 
prohibition on marijuana and start to end the War on Drugs. For far too 
long we have approached drug use and addiction as something we can jail 
ourselves out of. It is beyond clear that approach has failed. It is 
time we start to address the persistent and systemic racial bias that 
has plagued our criminal justice system and adopt policies that will 
move us forward, not backward. It is time to de-schedule marijuana.
  Since 2001, arrests for marijuana have increased across the Country 
and now account for over 50 percent of all drug arrests in the United 
States. The ACLU conducted a thorough study of over 8 million marijuana 
arrests between 2001 and 2010. It found that 88 percent of those were 
for marijuana possession. Alarmingly, the study also found that African 
Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana 
possession than their white peers, even though they use marijuana at 
similar rates.
  Over the last five years, States have begun to legalize marijuana in 
an effort to push back on the failed War on Drugs and combat the 
illicit drug market. Currently, eight States and the District of 
Columbia have legalized marijuana and more States are taking up 
measures to follow suit. We know from the experiences of States that 
have already legalized marijuana that we will gain far more than we 
lose--these States have seen increased revenues and decreased rates of 
serious crime, and a reallocation of resources toward more productive 
uses. In Colorado, arrest rates have decreased and State revenues have 
increased. Washington saw a 10 percent decrease in violent crime over 
the three-year period following legalization.
  However, the Federal government still treats marijuana as an illegal 
substance. It is time for the Federal government to end the Federal 
prohibition of marijuana.
  Today, I introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that would 
remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, thereby ending 
the Federal prohibition. The bill would also automatically expunge 
records for people who were convicted of Federal marijuana use and 
possession offenses. We must help people with criminal records get back 
up on their feet and obtain jobs, and expunging their records is an 
important step in that process.
  The legislation would allow individuals currently serving time in 
Federal prison for marijuana offenses to petition a court for a 
resentencing. One of the greatest tragedies from the Fair Sentencing 
Act was that it did not provide retroactive relief to individuals 
serving time under the old crack and powder cocaine sentencing laws. 
The Marijuana Justice Act would allow people currently serving time for 
a marijuana offense to seek immediate relief.
  The bill would also use Federal funds to encourage States where 
marijuana is illegal to legalize the drug if they disproportionately 
arrest or incarcerate low income individuals or people

[[Page S4670]]

of color. Too often drug laws are enforced disproportionately against 
minorities and the poor. This is unacceptable and belies our values.
  Finally, the Marijuana Justice Act would establish a community 
reinvestment fund, which would invest money in communities most 
affected by the War on Drugs. Building new libraries, supporting job 
training, and investing in community centers will improve public safety 
and is the right thing to do after decades of failed drug policies.
  The Marijuana Justice Act is a serious step in acknowledging, that 
after 40 years, it is time to end the War on Drugs. It is time to stop 
our backward thinking, which has only led to backward results. It is 
time to lead with our hearts, our heads, and with policy that actually 
works.
                                 ______

City Of Sandy Bans Medical Marijuana Shops, Angering Would-Be Pot Shop Owner

OREGON:  Sandy is banning medical marijuana shops even though voters narrowly approved allowing recreational use last year.

It’s an admitted stall tactic that’s making a would-be pot shop owner irate.

“I don’t take no very well,” said Matt Naegeli. “It’s disheartening and it makes one question the democratic process.”

Naegeli first tried to open up a medical marijuana dispensary in March of last year, but the city of Sandy had banned it saying that allowing it would violate the Controlled Substances Act.

 

Colorado Hemp Grows From Novelty To Industry With Potential

COLORADO:  The hype over hemp that erupted last year during Colorado’s first sensational flirtations with the marijuana look-alike is now starting to live up to expectations. A handful of growers in 2014 planted and harvested small-scale crops that attracted large-scale attention under hemp’s newly legal status.

This year, hype is being replaced with indicators of hemp’s industrial potential as seen in farm fields, factories, retail outlets and university laboratories. Hemp and its byproducts have a wide range of uses in nutrition, clothing, building materials, cosmetics and health.

The sector still is too tiny to rate even an asterisk in most conventional measures such as crop value and retail sales in Colorado.

Hemp also faces lingering perceptual problems. There’s confusion from its visual similarity to marijuana, even though hemp contains little or no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The federal government sees no distinction; it considers both illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.

Hemp Industry Enters 2nd Year With Hazy Market Potential

COLORADO:  The newly legal hemp industry is entering its second growing season with some big questions for producers experimenting with marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.

The federal government has allowed limited imports of hemp seed — in Colorado’s case, this month — for research and development purposes. Companies trying to create a U.S. hemp industry are seeking investors not only for unproven products but for a plant that is still classified under the federal Controlled Substances Act with marijuana and thus cannot be patented.

As a result, it’s too soon to tell whether hemp will become a boon for farmers or stay in mostly boutique products that use imported hemp.

At least 22 states allow hemp cultivation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though most are limited to experimental testing, not commercial industry. Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture say they’re not sure how many states are growing hemp or how much is being produced.

New Bill Makes Feds ‘Respect State Marijuana Laws’

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Six Congressional Republicans and six Democrat co-sponsors re-introduced a bill today that would end the federal war on pot in states that had legalized it, Marijuana Policy Project reports.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to immunize from federal prosecution citizens acting in compliance with a state marijuana law.

At least $300 million in federal funds under President Obama has been spent prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis activity, advocates estimate.

“This bill resolves the issue entirely by letting states determine their own policies,” stated Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s the strongest federal legislation introduced to date, and it’s the bill most likely to pass in a Republican-controlled Congress. Nearly every GOP presidential contender has said marijuana policy should be a state issue, not a federal one, essentially endorsing this bill”.

 

Ruling On Marijuana Classification Disappoints Advocates

CALIFORNIA:  A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to remove marijuana from the list of most dangerous drugs, disappointing activists who saw the case as a chance to get closer to their goal of nationwide legalization.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said during a brief court hearing that she was initially prepared to rule that marijuana should not be a Schedule 1 drug but then decided it was up to Congress to change the law if it wishes.

“It has been 45 years since Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act,” Mueller said, noting “the landscape has changed” since then.

However, the judge pointed out that courts are not designed to act as a maker of public policy and explained that she had made her decision based on the facts of the marijuana growing case that sparked the legal challenge.

A Closer Look At The Federal MMJ Bill

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  There was a historical piece of legislation introduced to Congress that aims to legalize medical marijuana on a national level. Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kristen Gillibrand held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the filing of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act of 2015 (CARERS), which would emancipate states from the confines of federal statutes as they pertain to medical marijuana and ultimately expand the functionality of the nation’s cannabis communities without the concern of federal interference.

Prior to the press conference, all that was known about the bill was that it would “allow patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution.” However, now that the legislation has been published in its entirely, the broader scope of its intentions have been revealed.

Perhaps one of the most crucial elements of the CARERS Act is that it gives medical marijuana states the right to disconnect from the Controlled Substances Act, no longer making the “production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, laboratory testing or delivery of medical marihuana,” illegal in the eyes of the federal government. Under this provision, the Drug Enforcement Administration would cease to have jurisdiction over state medical marijuana businesses and its patients.

A Sensible Bill On Medical Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Three senators, two Democrats and a Republican, introduced a bill on Tuesday that would allow patients to use marijuana for medical purposes in states where it is legal, without fear of federal prosecution for violating narcotics laws.

The bill makes a number of important changes to federal marijuana policies — and it deserves to be passed by Congress and enacted into law. Though this legislation would not repeal the broad and destructive federal ban on marijuana, it is a big step in the right direction.

The most important change would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which is intended for drugs, like heroin, that have no accepted medical use in the United States, and place it instead in Schedule II, the classification for drugs that have a legitimate medical use but also have a “high potential for abuse.”

The Schedule I classification made no sense because there is a medical consensus that patients with AIDS, cancer, epilepsy and serious degenerative conditions can benefit from marijuana. And millions of patients have used marijuana to relieve pain, nausea, appetite loss, insomnia and seizures associated with various illnesses.

Polis Co-Sponsors Bill Undoing Federal Hemp Ban

COLORADO:  U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and representatives from Kentucky, Oregon and California have introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives a bill that would eliminate the federal ban on hemp production, Polis’s office announced Thursday.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act would bring the hemp crop back to U.S. agriculture, removing industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant that contains little or no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Hemp can be used to manufacture clothing, fiber plastic substitute and food products.

The bill would also require the federal government to respect state laws that allow farmers to grow the crop. Colorado legalized the production of industrial hemp in 2014.