Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced a bill on Wednesday to federally regulate cannabis like alcohol. The bill, in a reference to pot culture, has been designated as House Resolution 420.
"While the bill number may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the issue is very serious," said Blumenauer. "Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives. Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It's time to end this senseless prohibition."
If passed, the measure would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and put the regulation of cannabis under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Removing marijuana from the CSA, where it is listed as a Schedule I drug, would allow federal grants to fund cannabis research and eliminate tight regulations on banking and other financial services. Passage of the bill would also allow for interstate cannabis commerce between states with legal pot. That would allow Blumenauer's home state of Oregon, which is experiencing a weed glut, to export to other markets.
The Food and Drug Administration and the renamed Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana Tax and Trade Bureau, part of the Department of the Treasury, would have regulatory jurisdiction over the newly legal cannabis industry. The federal government would issue permits for the cultivation, packaging, sale, and importing of cannabis.
H.R. 420, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, has been referred to the House Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Natural Resources, and Agriculture committees for consideration. The text of the measure has not yet been posted to the House of Representatives website.
New Congressional Cannabis Caucus Chairs
Also on Wednesday, Blumenauer announced the new co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus for the 116th Congress, which began earlier this month. The caucus is a bipartisan forum in the House of Representatives "to discuss, learn, and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy," according to a press releasefrom Blumenauer.
"The Cannabis Caucus was the first of its kind to create a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws," said Blumenauer. "Congress is clearly out of step with the American people on cannabis when national support for federal marijuana legalization is at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward legalization last November."
Joining Blumenauer as co-chairs will be California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee, who will be the first woman of color to co-chair the caucus; Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, and Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican.
"Over the last decade, I've worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting. I'm looking forward to working alongside Reps. Lee, Joyce, and Young to build on the bipartisan work we've done to end the senseless federal prohibition on marijuana once and for all," said Blumenauer.
Rep. Lee said that is time to end the failed prohibition of cannabis.
"For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I am committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs. We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition," said Lee.
This article first appeared in High Times.
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