GOP lawmakers are submitting a comprehensive law to decriminalize marijuana
Two Republican members of the House of Representatives tabled a bill on Thursday to effectively enforce federal decriminalization of marijuana. The measure, Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Health Professionals, was submitted by the two Chairmen of the Cannabis Caucus of Congress, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, and Representative of Ohio, Dave Joyce.
If the bill decriminalizing marijuana were passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden, it would remove cannabis from federal controlled substances law. The move would also require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to enact cannabis regulations modeled on those of the alcohol industry within one year of going into effect. The aim of the legislation is to reform the nation’s archaic cannabis policy, which Young described as “ineffective”.
“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policy has stood in the way of both individual freedom and the rights of a state under the 10th Amendment,” he said in a statement. “It has been a long time since these archaic laws were updated for the 21st century.”
The bill would also provide federal preventive protection to financial institutions and other companies in states that have not legalized marijuana so they can service legal cannabis companies. Additionally, the legislation would allow Department of Veterans Physicians to legally prescribe medical cannabis to military veterans.
“This bill takes important steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medicinal cannabis to veterans. In addition, state-licensed cannabis companies can finally access traditional financial services,” added Young.
The federal decriminalization of marijuana law includes a cannabis research mandate
The Veterans, Small Business and Healthcare Professionals Common Sense Cannabis Reform Act also directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct two cannabis research studies. The first would look at the effectiveness of cannabis as a pain management tool, while the second would look at the impairment of cannabis. Legislation requires reports on the two studies to be submitted to Congress within two years of the law coming into effect.
“With more than 40 states acting on this matter, it is time for Congress to recognize that an ongoing cannabis ban is neither tenable nor the will of American voters,” said Joyce.
“My legislation responds to the American people’s demand for change and our states’ need for clarity by creating an effective federal cannabis regulatory framework that helps veterans, supports small businesses and their workers, enables critical research, and tackles the opioid crisis respecting the right of states to make their own decisions about cannabis policy that is best for their constituents, ”he continued.
Justin Strekal, the political director of the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Law (NORML), in a statement by the activist group called on more federal lawmakers to join the push for federal cannabis reform.
“We hope that more Republicans of Congress will follow Reps Joyce and Young and the American people to help repeal the failed and pointless federal marijuana criminalization policy by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.” Said Strekal.
The law introduced on Thursday isn’t the only pending law reforming federal cannabis policy. In December, the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, a measure designed to remove cannabis from the country’s controlled substances list. The move marked the first time in history that the entire House of Representatives had voted on a law to decriminalize marijuana. This measure is awaiting action by the Senate.