Marijuana legislation introduced back in 2015 could be the breakthrough centerpiece states need to fully decriminalize marijuana.
H.R. 1013, introduced February 20, 2015, would put marijuana in the same classification as alcohol, and subject to the same regulations. It had 11 original co-sponsors. That number has grown to 19 bi-partisan co-sponsors from 12 states. For two years, the bill has quietly been gaining support, and now, thanks to a collective effort of congressional representatives, it could prove to be the key to aligning states’ rights and federal laws.
This simple yet powerful piece of legislation is now the linchpin piece the new Congressional Cannabis Caucus. The bi-partisan caucus is ramping up with a barrage of legislation pieces designed to unify more congress members and galvanize the floor despite recent saber-rattling from the new administration.
While Attorney General Sessions has made stern remarks against cannabis, he may also be sending dog whistle messages to Congress by stating, “If the American people are worried about my approach to enforcing federal marijuana laws, they should get Congress to change them.”
Indeed, this appears to be the case as state representatives, senators, governors, and congressional leaders are wasting no time, converging on legalization issues at all levels of government. A slate of new marijuana legislation measures have been submitted since the start of the year, with many expected to follow.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (D-CA) introduced a Federal Marijuana Policy last month. It builds on the Respect States Marijuana Laws Act, reintroduced by Rohrabacher the same day. As he stated, “This is to those States and the people of those States who have decided they don’t want the marijuana prohibition. My bill would then make sure that Federal law is aligned with the States’ and the people in those States’ desires so that the residents and businesses wouldn’t have to worry about Federal prosecution. For those few States that have thus far maintained a policy of strict prohibition, my bill would change nothing.”
He addressed the quandary dispensary owners find themselves by specifically addressing banking.
He summarized, “The major difficulties that landlords, dispensaries, banks, and others find themselves in, in those States where the majority of people–maybe the vast majority of people–have voted to make marijuana legal in their borders stems from the fact that the Federal Government law considers that activity still illegal. By explicitly stating that as long as these folks are following the State law, their actions are, by definition, not illegal to the Federal Government, if we do that, many of these obstacles, many of these confusions that people have to deal with in those States, in the States where people have voted to make sure they don’t want marijuana illegal, well, their problems and the complications, the banking rules and everything else would be solved immediately.”
Federal Marijuana Legislation: States Need Cannabis Revenue
We will be monitoring closely the many bills coming through the House in the next few months. Public pressure, as well as pressure from multiple government offices, is moving one step closer to federal legalization of marijuana. The fact is too many states need the cannabis revenue. Critical school funding and social services teetering on the brink of collapse would get a much-needed boost. And, ironically, the federal government itself would gain tax revenues.