Cannabis in America
Congress Now Has a Bipartisan Cannabis Caucus
A group of pro-pot federal lawmakers has teamed up to announce the formation of the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The bipartisan effort will work on legislation related to marijuana legalization and regulation, proving that perhaps Congress is taking the issue of marijuana legalization seriously.
During a press conference last Thursday afternoon, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (R-Oregon), Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), Don Young (R-Alaska), and Jared Polis (D-Colorado) joyfully announced the creation of the coalition. Unsurprisingly, all four of the representatives hail from states where recreational marijuana is legal.
“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”
Rohrabacher and company discussed the importance of protecting the rights of individuals who reside in states where recreational marijuana is legal. Earlier this month Rohrabacher introduced HR 975, otherwise known as the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, which would allow state law to supersede federal law when it comes to the Controlled Substance Act.
The appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General, a staunch marijuana critic, left many marijuana advocates wary of whether there will be any legislative change under the Trump Administration. In the past Sessions has called the drug “dangerous” and has joked that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” However, Sessions said during his confirmation hearing that he would need to use “good judgment” when deciding how to enforce federal marijuana laws.
“Because of the conflicts between Federal and State law, marijuana-related issues are no longer theoretical–they are real, and they are affecting real people in Alaska and across the country,” Young said in a written statement. “I look forward to working with the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to educate my colleagues in the House on the issues we are facing in Alaska, and hopefully to also develop solutions to these problems.”
According to Salon, several of the marijuana industry’s top leading lobbying groups and associations–including NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the Drug Policy Alliance, among others–issued a joint statement on Thursday thanking the lawmakers leading the charge on cannabis policy.
“The establishment of a Cannabis Caucus will allow members from both parties, who represent diverse constituencies from around the country, to join together for the purpose of advancing sensible cannabis policy reform,” the statement read.
With marijuana legalization approval ratings at an all time high, we’ll have to wait and see if the bipartisan efforts of these state representatives can make some more headway with updating current legislation.