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GOVERNMENT

  • by NORML September 5, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaRepresentatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced an amendment that, if passed, would disallow the Department of Justice to use funds from Congress to enforce federal laws on activities that are legal under state law with regard to marijuana. Ultimately, this amendment seeks to limit the federal government’s ability to intrude in states that have regulated various aspects of marijuana production and access.

    Thirty states (and the District of Columbia) permit the medical use of cannabis, while eight states now regulate the plant’s production and sale to all adults. (Washington, DC imposes no penalties on the personal use, possession, and cultivation of the plant, but does not allow for its retail sale.) More than a dozen additional states permit patients to possess a specific anticonvulsant compound found in the marijuana plant, known as cannabidiol. Additionally, more than half of all states permit farmers to cultivate industrial strains of cannabis.

    The passage of this bill is especially important with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. He believes that lawful medical marijuana patients are causing violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking and has asked Congress to allow the Department of Justice to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities. There is no logical reason for such interference by the federal government.

    Congressional passage of the McClintock/Polis amendment would allow these states and the citizens who reside in them, to engage in these permitted activities free from any threat of federal interference or prosecution. It is time for Congress to respect these measures and the rights of voters and state lawmakers who support them.

    Click here to send a message to your elected officials in support of HR 975, the Respect States Marijuana Laws Act.

  • by NORML September 3, 2017

    Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced an amendment to the House appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow funds to be used to prevent states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp. These laws are defined in section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. In 2014, members of Congress approved language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill explicitly authorizing states to sponsor hemp research.

    The majority of US states have already enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for its cultivation. However, the federal government still includes hemp in the Controlled Substances Act, despite it containing minimal amounts of THC–the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

    All parts of the hemp plant can be cultivated and used to produce everyday household items. It can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials such as clothing, paper, construction materials, and biofuel. Not only is it useful, but growing hemp is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.

    If Bonamici’s amendment is passed, this could prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with states’ rights, specifically regarding to the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of industrial hemp. It’s time for Congress to respect state laws and allow them to engage in the environmentally responsible cultivation of industrial hemp.

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of H.R. 3530, to exclude low-THC strains of cannabis grown for industrial purposes from the federal definition of marijuana.

     

  • by NORML

    Rep. Ted LieuRepresentative Ted Lieu (D-CA) has reintroduced an amendment to cut funds from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) cannabis eradication program through their Salaries and Expenses Account. In 2016, the budget for the eradication program was $18 million and the amendment would cut that in half. The funds would be redirected to domestic abuse prevention and juvenile justice programs.  This CJS appropriations amendment that was also proposed last year.

    In a 2015 statementRep. Lieu explained that this cannabis eradication program “is a ridiculous waste of precious federal resources, especially when multiple states and jurisdictions have already legalized marijuana…it is time for the federal government to stop making marijuana use or possession a federal crime.”

  • by NORML September 2, 2017

    Marijuana researchRepresentative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill that, if passed, would not allow the Department of Justice to use funds from the bill to prevent or delay the approval of an application to research medical marijuana. This past year, the DEA moved to create a new procedure to license more facilities to cultivate marijuana for research after hearing concerns about the lack of quality cannabis for trials. However, since this implementation, the DEA has not acted on any of the applications that have been submitted since the creation of this program in an attempt to keep the already outrageous restrictions.

    “Because of marijuana’s draconian schedule 1 status, scientists are hindered in researching its medical potential — and then, because medical research is scarce, its schedule 1 status is upheld. It’s time to break this vicious cycle, and make it easier for researchers to investigate the potential medical uses of cannabis” said Rep. Gaetz. “How many lives throughout the nation could be improved with increased marijuana research — from cancer patients to veterans with PTSD? We do a disservice to them, and to all Americans, by limiting research. The time for change is now.”

    Because marijuana is listed as a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government does not see it as having any medicinal benefits. Trying to get the DEA to actually act upon these new applications to expand research is extremely difficult and it will be just as difficult to get the DEA accept them. If Gaetz’s proposed amendment is passed, it will make it harder for the DEA to deny these research applications.

    In a bipartisan letter, Representatives Gaetz, Rohrabacher (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), and Blumenauer (D-OR) ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop standing in the way of increasing research into marijuana’s medical potential. In the letter, the Representatives write “It is worrisome to think that the Department of Justice, the cornerstone of American civil society, would limit new and potentially groundbreaking research simply because it does not want to follow a rule.”

  • by NORML

    Marijuana ScienceCongressman Denny Heck (WA-10) with Representatives Perlmutter (CO-07), Lee (CA-13), and Titus (NV-01) have submitted two amendments to the financial services division to be included in the House appropriations bill. Both of these amendments focus on banking services for legal marijuana-related businesses and would be a temporary fix until the current legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is passed into law.

    The first amendment prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to punish banks for serving marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The second amendment prohibits the Treasury from altering FinCEN’s guidance to financial institutions on providing banking services to legitimate marijuana businesses. These amendments, if included, would allow for legal marijuana-related business to operate according to state laws and enjoy access to the banking system.

    Currently, hundreds of licensed and regulated businesses do not have access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes. This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions.

    Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult use of marijuana and more than half the states have implemented medical marijuana laws, so it is both sensible and necessary to include these proposed amendments so that these growing number of state-compliant businesses, and their consumers, may operate in a manner that is similar to other legal commercial entities.

    You can click here to send an email in support of the SAFE Banking Act to your federal elected officials now. 

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