Cannabis Licensing Authorities Consolidation Part Of Governor’s Proposed State Budget

CALIFORNIA:  Governor Newsom’s fiscal year 2021-2022 budget proposal released today includes a proposal to consolidate the three state licensing authorities into a single Department of Cannabis Control. This proposal was first announced in January 2020 but was delayed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. If approved by the Legislature, the new Department will be created on July 1, 2021.

In an effort to improve access to licensing and simplify and centralize regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity, the Governor’s Budget proposes to consolidate licensing and associated regulatory functions into a single state Department. This proposal seeks to better serve stakeholders including cannabis businesses, local governments, and members of the public by acting as a single point of contact as well as leverage existing funding in a more efficient way by reducing redundancies. Further, it seeks to establish uniform operations and procedures that will streamline processes for applicants and licensees and offer better service and coordination.

The three state licensing authorities have begun to prepare and plan for the consolidation and, most importantly, to ensure continuity of operations. We are committed to making this transition in a manner that reduces unnecessary disruption to the marketplace and California businesses. Our team members will remain available to applicants and licensees as they continue their routine business activities.

NY Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal To Legalize And Create An Equitable Adult-Use Cannabis Program As Part Of The 2021 State Of The State

Proposal to Create the new Office of Cannabis Management to Regulate State Medical and Adult-use Cannabis and Cannabinoid Hemp Programs

Equitable Market Structure to Invest in Individuals and Communities Disproportionately Impacted by Prohibition

NEW YORK: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a proposal to legalize and create a comprehensive system to oversee and regulate cannabis in New York as part of the 2021 State of the State. Under the Governor’s proposal, a new Office of Cannabis Management would be created to oversee the new adult-use program, as well as the State’s existing medical and cannabinoid hemp programs. Additionally, an equitable structure for the adult-use market will be created by offering licensing opportunities and assistance to entrepreneurs in communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Once fully implemented, legalization is expected to generate more than $300 million in tax revenue.

“Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

“Despite the many challenges New York has faced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also created a number of opportunities to correct longstanding wrongs and build New York back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “Not only will legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provide the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also allows us to directly support the individuals and communities that have been most harmed by decades of cannabis prohibition.”

The Governor’s proposal builds on years of work to understand and decriminalize cannabis for adult use. In 2018, the Department of Health, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, conducted a multi-agency study which concluded that the positive impacts of legalizing adult-use cannabis far outweighed the negatives. It also found that decades of cannabis prohibition have failed to achieve public health and safety goals and have led to unjust arrests and convictions particularly in communities of color.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to decriminalize the penalties for unlawful possession of marijuana. The legislation also put forth a process to expunge records for certain marijuana convictions. Later that year, the Governor spearheaded a multi-state summit to discuss paths towards legalization of adult-use cannabis that would ensure public health and safety and coordinate programs regionally to minimize the cross-border movement of cannabis products.

Building on that important work, the proposal reflects national standards and emerging best practices to promote responsible use, limiting the sale of cannabis products to adults 21 and over and establishing stringent quality and safety controls including strict regulation of the packaging, labeling, advertising, and testing of all cannabis products. Cannabis regulation also offers the opportunity to invest in research and direct resources to communities that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition.

Virginia Governor Northam Announces Industrial Hemp Company to Locate In Rockingham County

Governor Northam Announces Industrial Hemp Company to Locate in Rockingham County

VIRGINIA:  Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Shenandoah Valley Hemp, LLC dba Pure Shenandoah will invest nearly $3.3 million to establish an industrial hemp fiber processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility in the historic Casey Jones building in the Town of Elkton. The company will create 24 new jobs and has committed to purchasing 100 percent of its industrial hemp from Virginia growers, resulting in nearly $5 million in payments to Virginia farmers over the next three years. Pure Shenandoah will become the first participant in the Virginia’s Finest trademark program to source the hemp used in its products exclusively from the Commonwealth.

“Virginia’s industrial hemp industry continues to experience tremendous growth, creating a wealth of opportunity across our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Projects like this one are an important part of diversifying our economy and developing new markets for industrial hemp. Our administration remains committed to supporting growers and processors as we work to ensure this crop has a sustainable future in Virginia.”

Pure Shenandoah operates as a vertically integrated “seed to sale” company providing customers with safe and consistent hemp products of the highest quality. This includes strict regulatory control of crops, the application of certified good manufacturing practices, and complete traceability of each product back to the seed and farm from which it came.

“Pure Shenandoah is a great example of the many ways we are able to help innovative, agriculture-based companies grow and thrive in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased to see continued job creation and investment in Virginia’s industrial hemp industry and excited for the new market opportunities the industry is creating for our farmers.”

“Industrial hemp is gaining momentum across the country, and we are excited for Virginia to be a player in this up-and-coming industry,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Pure Shenandoah will provide quality jobs and enable the Commonwealth’s hemp growers to source extraction and processing within Virginia, further benefiting our economy and agricultural ecosystem.”

As part of its strategic marketing efforts, Pure Shenandoah is a participating member of the Virginia’s Finest® program. Created more than 30 years ago with more than 500 participating companies, this program helps consumers know they are purchasing top-quality Virginia-produced specialty food products whenever they see the classic blue and red VA check mark logo.

“We are honored to receive these funds and to work with such influential state programs that are helping push the industrial hemp industry forward in the Commonwealth,” said Pure Shenandoah CEO Tanner Johnson. “With this support, we will continue to educate and provide safe and effective products to consumers. We are excited to do our part and help expand the future of industrial hemp and all of its potential.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Rockingham County and the Rockingham County Economic Development Authority to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund for the project, which Rockingham County will match with local funds. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Rockingham County is pleased with the announcement of 24 new jobs and the investment of $3.3 million in eastern Rockingham County,” said Chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Bill Kyger. “This is a new and exciting industry that offers a great opportunity to diversify the agriculture base of the county for the future.”

“We should never forget or take for granted Virginia’s tremendous agricultural heritage and its economic viability that continues to push Virginia forward,” said Senator Emmett Hanger. “I am pleased the AFID funds will further promote industrial hemp and that Pure Shenandoah is committed to exclusively sourcing Virginia agriculture products for this project. Of course, there is no better county to partner with on this funding than the number one agricultural county in the Commonwealth, Rockingham County. We are proud of our deep agricultural roots here in Virginia and this economic announcement adds yet another facet to our diverse agriculture operations.”

Dr. Rand Paul Introduces HEMP Act To Relieve Unnecessary Constraints On Hemp Industry, Provide Transparency And Certainty

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his efforts to address Kentucky hemp farmers’ concerns with federal overreach and bring clarity, transparency, and certainty to regulation by introducing the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act of 2020.

In response to concerns raised by Kentucky hemp farmers and processors, Dr. Paul’s HEMP Act would change the legal definition of hemp to raise the THC limit from 0.3% to 1%. Currently, any hemp crops testing above 0.3% have to be destroyed.

The legislation would require testing of the final hemp-derived product instead of the hemp flower or plant itself, as the 15-day window for testing the hemp flower or plant does not take potential testing backlogs, lack of personnel to collect samples, harvesting time, or environmental factors that farmers cannot control into account.

Dr. Paul’s HEMP Act would also protect legitimate hemp farmers, processors, and transporters by requiring hemp shipments to contain a copy of the seed certificate showing the hemp was grown from 1% THC seed, and it would address current uncertainty by defining a margin of error for testing THC levels. Neither current law nor the USDA’s interim final rule provide such a margin.

“For years, I’ve led the fight in Washington to restore one of Kentucky’s most historically vital crops by legalizing industrial hemp. We achieved a hard-won victory, but there is still work to do to prevent the federal government from weighing down our farmers with unnecessary bureaucratic micromanaging. My legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic potential, and I am proud the bill has strong support all the way from local Kentucky farmers and activists to national groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation,” said Dr. Paul.

“The U.S. hemp industry has had its share of roadblocks, but we continue to push forward and make changes that will help hemp producers thrive. Senator Paul’s HEMP Act has the potential to improve upon the highest priority issues for hemp growers, processors, and labs, while making sure to keep our consumers safe as well. We are grateful for the continued support from our federal delegation and ask that folks at home call their Congressional representatives to ask for their support,” said Katie Moyer, Owner of Kentucky Hemp Works. 

“We are so excited to hear about Senator Paul’s H.E.M.P. Act, which will help farmers, processors and retailers in our young hemp industry. We believe that loosening up some important interstate business requirements are a much-needed step toward more prosperous times in the hemp economy,” said Kentucky Hemp Association President Tate Hall and Vice President Jana Groda. 

“We appreciate Sen. Paul’s leadership and support for hemp farmers in Kentucky and across the United States. The HEMP Act makes critical improvements that will better allow farmers to successfully grow and profit from hemp,” said Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.

Dr. Paul has been a leading voice for removing government restrictions on hemp, and his past efforts, including championing legislation, testifying before the Kentucky legislature, and advocating for Kentucky farmers in Washington, have helped ensure Kentucky can rebuild its hemp industry and push forward to a prosperous future. You can find a video detailing his efforts HERE.

You can read Dr. Paul’s HEMP Act of 2020 HERE, and you can find background and further details in a one-pager HERE.

House Approves Blumenauer’s Medical Marijuana Research Act

Legislation removes barriers to much-needed research on health benefits of marijuana.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:Today (12/9/2020), the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Medical Marijuana Research Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Andy Harris (R-MD) to address burdensome impediments to legitimate medical research.

Although 99 percent of Americans now live in a state with some form of legalized marijuana, current federal law greatly limits researchers’ ability to study the health benefits of cannabis. Current barriers include the overly burdensome registration process, redundant protocol reviews, lack of adequate research material, and unnecessarily onerous security requirements.

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, especially those that deal with research. It’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or any other substance. But we do not have a good test for impairment because we can’t study it … This is insane and we need to change it,” Blumenauer said today on the House floor. “At a time when there are four million registered medical cannabis patients, and many more likely self-medicate, when there are 91 percent of Americans supporting medical cannabis, it’s time to change the system. Our bill will do precisely that.”

While the United States leads the world in biomedical research, research on cannabis lags far behind. A 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that “research on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids has been limited in the United States, leaving patients, health care professionals, and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids.”

The Medical Marijuana Research Act will address these limitations by:

  • Providing a pathway for researchers to study the cannabis products consumers are using from state-legal programs.
  • Streamlining the burdensome and often duplicative license process for researchers seeking to conduct marijuana research, while still maintaining all necessary safeguards against misuse and abuse.
  • Addressing the woefully inadequate, both in quantity and quality, supply of medical-grade marijuana available for use in such research.
  • Requiring a report by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the status and results of new research on marijuana benefits.

This was the second vote held by the U.S. House of Representatives in the past week on Blumenauer’s federal cannabis reform priorities, following the passage of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on Friday, December 4.

The full text of the Medical Marijuana Research Act can be found here.

Congressman Blumenauer Reacts To New Report Detailing Vast Economic Benefits To MORE Act

CBO projections show that cannabis reform will lead to huge growth in revenue, cuts to federal prison spending, and more.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Following a historic vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to end the federal prohibition on cannabis last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, released a new report today detailing vast economic benefits to the legislation.

Among other things, the agency found that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would increase revenues by about $13.7 billion, cut federal prison spending by $1 billion, and reduce time served in federal prison among existing and future inmates by 73,000 person-years.

U.S. Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and a key sponsor of the MORE Act, lauded these findings today on the House floor.

“It was sad that my Republican colleagues were unable to understand why we voted to reform our failed prohibition of cannabis. They don’t care about honoring the will of the people and they are unable to grasp the enormity of the racial injustice and damage by selective enforcement against young Black and Brown Americans,” Blumenauer said. “But the CBO score may have some other reasons for them. It shows that the MORE Act would reduce 73,000 person-years of prison time. It would increase revenues by $13.7 billion. It would provide $3 billion for job training and legal aid to people harmed by the war on drugs. While doing all of this, it would reduce the deficit by $7.344 billion.”

If the MORE Act becomes law, the CBO report also estimates that from 2021 – 2030, the U.S. Department of Justice would spend $3 billion from the MORE Act’s Opportunity Trust Fund to provide job training, legal aid, and other services to people harmed by the “War on Drugs.” During this same period, the legislation would lead to $2.7 billion in Small Business Association funding for state and local grants to make loans to cannabis businesses and help governments develop cannabis-licensing rules.

“Even if you don’t care about reducing the damage to Black and Brown Americans, or honoring the will of the people, the economics make it clear,” Blumenauer continued. “Once again, the people are right, and the people deserve strong Congressional support.”

The report released today by the CBO can be found here.

Full text of the MORE Act can be found here.

Pelosi Statement On House Passage Of MORE Act To Federally Decriminalize Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement after the House passed H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, while taking long overdue steps to address the devastating injustices of the criminalization of marijuana and the vastly disproportionate impact it has had on communities of color:

“Today, with the bipartisan MORE Act, the House has proudly passed one of the most important criminal justice reform bills in recent history.  This momentous step helps end the devastating injustices of the criminalization of marijuana that have disproportionately impacted low income communities and communities of color, and reflects the overwhelming will of the American people — 47 states have recently reformed marijuana laws, with California at the helm of this justice effort.  
“The MORE Act builds on these advancements and finally secures justice for those negatively impacted by the brutal, unfair consequences of criminalization.  This landmark legislation will also open the doors of opportunity for all people to participate in the growing cannabis industry and provide revenue and resources to communities to grow.
“Guided by the tireless voices of advocates and young people, and the leadership of Democrats, the House has achieved an extraordinary victory for our fundamental values of justice, equality and opportunity for all.  Our Majority will fight to enact this vital legislation as we work to lift up communities of color and advance progress for all.”

Chairman Nadler Statement In Support Of H.R. 3884, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment And Expungement (MORE) Act Of 2020

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement in support of H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2020:

“Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have introduced H.R. 3884, the ‘Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2020,’ or the ‘MORE Act of 2020.’

“This long overdue legislation would reverse the failed policy of criminalizing marijuana on the federal level and would take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color.

“The MORE Act would make three important changes to federal law:

(1) remove marijuana, or cannabis, from the list of federally controlled substances;

(2) authorize the provision of resources, funded by an excise tax on marijuana, to address the needs of communities that have been seriously impacted by the War on Drugs, including increasing the participation of communities of color in the burgeoning cannabis market; and

(3) provide for the expungement of Federal marijuana convictions and arrests.

“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health.  Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.

“This issue is not new to Congress.  There have been many Members who have introduced bills upon which provisions in this bill are based.  For instance, Representative Barbara Lee has sponsored bills that are the foundation of key provisions of the MORE Act, and I thank her for her longstanding leadership on this issue.  Representative Earl Blumenauer has also been an indefatigable advocate and has supported everything we have done to get to where we are today.  I thank him, as well.

“Federal action on this issue would follow the growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable.  Despite the federal government’s continuing criminalization of marijuana, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis.  Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.

“Marijuana is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for food, and it has been used medicinally all over the world since at least 2700 B.C., but its criminalization is a relatively recent phenomenon.

“The use of marijuana, which most likely originated in Asia, later spread to Europe, and made its way to the Americas when the Jamestown settlers brought it with them across the Atlantic.  The cannabis plant has been widely grown in the United States and was used as a component in fabrics during the middle of the 19th century.  During that time period, cannabis was also widely used as a treatment for a multitude of ailments, including muscle spasms, headaches, cramps, asthma, and diabetes.

“It was only in the early part of the 20th century that marijuana began to be criminalized in the United States—mainly because of misinformation and hysteria, based at least in part on racially-biased stereotypes connecting marijuana use and people of color, particularly African-Americans and Latinos.  In 1970, when President Nixon announced the War on Drugs and signed the Controlled Substances Act into law, the federal government placed marijuana on Schedule I, the most restrictive schedule that is attached to the most serious criminal penalties, where—unfairly and unjustifiably—it has remained ever since.

“As a consequence of this decision, thousands of individuals—overwhelmingly people of color—have been subjected, by the federal government, to unjust prison sentences for marijuana offenses.  It is time for this manifest injustice to end.  The MORE Act would remove marijuana from Schedule I and the Controlled Substances Act altogether, thereby decriminalizing it at the Federal level.

“This is only fair, particularly because the same racial animus motivating the enactment of marijuana laws also led to racially disproportionate enforcement of such laws, which has had a substantial, negative impact on communities of color.  In fact, nationwide, the communities that have been most harmed by marijuana enforcement are benefitting the least from the legal marijuana marketplace.

“The MORE Act would address some of these negative impacts, by establishing an Opportunity Trust Fund within the Department of Treasury to fund programs within the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration to empower communities of color and those adversely impacted by the War on Drugs. These programs would provide services to individuals, including job training, reentry services and substance use disorder services; provide funds for loans to assist small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; and provide resources for programs that minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

“The collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession—and even sometimes for a mere arrest—can be devastating.  For those saddled with a criminal conviction, it can be difficult or impossible to vote, to obtain educational loans, to get a job, to maintain a professional license, to secure housing, to receive government assistance, or even to adopt a child.

“These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans.  This is unacceptable and counterproductive, especially in light of the disproportionate impact that enforcement of marijuana laws has had on communities of color.  The MORE Act recognizes this injustice and addresses these harmful effects by expunging and sealing federal convictions and arrests for marijuana offenses.

“It is not surprising that over the past two decades, public support for legalizing marijuana has surged.  In the most recent Pew Research Center poll—which was released at the end of 2019—67 percent of Americans now back marijuana legalization, up from 62 percent in Pew’s 2018 poll.  And just this November, there were ballot measures pertaining to marijuana in several states; they were all approved by voters.  Indeed, the states have led the way—and continue to lead the way—on marijuana, but our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change.  We need to catch up because the public supports reform and because it is the right thing to do.

“In my view, applying criminal penalties, with their attendant collateral consequences for marijuana offenses is unjust and harmful to our society.  The MORE Act comprehensively addresses this injustice, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this bill today.”

California: Notice Regarding State Stay-At-Home Order Issued December 3, 2020

CALIFORNIA:  On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new Stay-at-Home Order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to continue facilitating a consistent approach across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order goes into effect at 12:59 p.m. on December 5 and will be applied on a regional basis. If a region falls below the 15% ICU threshold, it will have 24 hours to implement the Stay-at-Home Order. The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks. Learn more about this order.

 

The order continues to identify certain services as essential and these services can continue operations while the Stay-at-Home Order is in effect. Cannabis businesses remain essential businesses under the order. To ensure public and employee safety, the order limits the number of people on a cannabis retail premises to 20% of the capacity of the retail location. Cannabis licensees can otherwise continue to operate in the same manner they are now, including activities allowed by approved disaster-relief requests, provided their operations comply with state and local rules and regulations. To determine if your region is subject to the stay-at-home order, please visit: COVID19.CA.GOV.

Any licensee that continues to operate must adopt social-distancing and anti-congregating measures, and must follow the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease at all times.

The Governor recently announced  programs to provide financial assistance to certain small businesses. This includes immediate tax relief from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) in the form of automatic filing extensions, interest-free payment plans, or a hiring tax credit of up to $100,000 to offset income or sales and use taxes. Information about these programs can be found at CDTFA’s COVID-19 web page. You can also learn more about the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant, including availability and eligibility, by signing up for updates from the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. Below are resources for employers, employees, and public safety:

CEI Leads Coalition Letter Supporting MORE Act Provision To De-Schedule Cannabis

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise:

On behalf of the many of Americans whose views and values our organizations represent, we respectfully urge you to support efforts to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. While we oppose many aspects of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, we support its provision to de-schedule cannabis, which would restore the right to decide how to regulate the substance to the people and their state representatives. The undersigned organizations agree that this action is an important step toward undoing the harms caused by the misguided drug war and protecting our nation’s principle of federalism.

In the past election, voters in five states authorized medical cannabis use, recreational use, or both. In fact, every cannabis-legalization ballot measure throughout the country was approved by voters, bringing the total number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 35 plus the District of Columbia and the number of states that have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults to 15, along with the District. In fact, all but two states have legalized or decriminalized cannabis in some form, properly adapting state policies to reflect the needs and opinions of their constituents. Yet, such responsive governance is hampered by the fact cannabis remains federally prohibited.

Congress has recognized the need to resolve this conflict for many years. Amendments to prevent federal interference in state cannabis regulation enjoy a long history of support among both House Republicans and Democrats. These measures can give states some flexibility to set policies in accordance with the will of their people. But the dual legal status of cannabis has created confusion and put the welfare of many citizens and businesses in jeopardy.

The federal prohibition has excluded small cannabis businesses from many of the financial and legal services or benefits afforded to other industries. The conflict also creates hazards for consumers of legal cannabis products, extending to issues of employment, housing, property rights, firearms purchasing, and civil asset forfeiture, among others. For example, patients who wish to participate in their state’s legal medical marijuana program must choose between their medicine and owning a gun, because the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone who uses controlled substances from possessing guns or ammunition. Only Congress can resolve this conflict and there is strong, bipartisan public support for such action.

According to a November 2020 Gallup poll, 68 percent of all Americans believe the use of marijuana should be made legal, including 52 percent of Republican voters. There is even greater support for allowing states to make the decision without federal interference. A 2017 CBS News Poll found that 64 percent of Republican voters, 76 percent of Democrats, and 72 percent of independents opposed federal attempts to stop states from legalizing cannabis.

The undersigned organizations vary in our opinions on the specifics of cannabis legalization, but we are in strong accord when it comes to whether the federal or state governments should have the power to make such decisions. Our Constitution limits federal power and leaves most issues of law enforcement to the individual states for good reason. We are a nation of diverse backgrounds, opinions, and values. State authorities are best placed to understand the needs of their populace and must be free to decide how best to protect public health and safety and direct limited resources toward those priorities. What works for California may not be appropriate for Utah and vice versa. The federal government need not endorse one approach or another nor condone cannabis use; it needs only to respect the states’ authority to choose how best to regulate cannabis.

As a coalition of groups and individuals supporting free market solutions and the protection of essential constitutional principles, we strongly urge you to respect our nation’s federalist structure and support the MORE Act’s provision to de-schedule cannabis.

Sincerely,

Michelle Minton
Senior Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Arthur Rizer
Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy
R Street Institute