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Cannabis Caucus

  • by NORML July 23, 2019

    Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY) introduced The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The Senate companion bill is carried by Senator Kamala Harris (CA). 

    “After nearly a century of prohibition, it is clear this policy has been an absolute failure and a national disgrace. All we have to show for the war we have waged on marijuana is the egregious harms it has wrought upon tens-of-millions of our fellow citizens. By passing the MORE Act, Congress can begin to remedy the pain caused by the criminalization of marijuana. This bill provides a real federal solution by fully descheduling of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and providing relief to those suffering under the collateral consequences of having a marijuana charge on their record by facilitating the process of expungements. The American public is overwhelmingly ready to legalize marijuana, their elected officials in Washington need to finally start representing the will of the people and advance this sensible legislation,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri. 

    The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana reform bill ever introduced in the US Congress and is backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups. 

    Send a message to your lawmakers in support of the bill now! 

    “Never in American history has the Chairman of the Judiciary introduced a bill to end federal marijuana criminalization. At a time when the state you live in can determine whether cannabis can ruin your life or make you a millionaire, now more than ever we must end the national prohibition of marijuana. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act embodies the need to legalize cannabis and restore the rights of those who have suffered under the cruel and failed policy of criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. 

    If enacted, the bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies. Descheduling will also allow the existing state-legal marijuana industry to no longer be barred from accessing financial services or standard tax treatment as every other legal business. Similarly, veterans will have better access to medical marijuana with VA doctors no longer risking federal prosecution for filling out state-legal medical recommendations.

    Given the restrictions the marijuana industry has had to abide by under section 280E of the IRS code, existing enterprises would have a significantly lower overall tax burden than under the current policy of prohibition. 

    The bill would tax marijuana products at a modest 5% to establish a Trust Fund to assist state and local governments in expunging criminal records and setting up regulatory structures for marijuana’s lawful production and distribution.

     The Trust Fund would have three functions:

    1. A fund administrated by a newly created Office of Cannabis Justice to issue grants to communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs for the development of expungement processes, employment programs, reentry guidance, youth resources and more. The Office of Cannabis would be one of the Justice Programs in the Department of Justice. This provision is modeled on the Marijuana Justice Act, by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA).
    2. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to encourage socially and economically disadvantaged people to enter the cannabis industry, similar to legislation introduced by Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (NY).
    3. A fund administered by the Small Business Administration to create equitable licensing programs in states and local governments that benefit communities most impacted by the prohibition.

    Currently, individuals with a marijuana conviction are saddled with collateral consequences, including a prohibition from obtaining federal benefits, student loans, or security clearances for government jobs due to marijuana’s criminalized status. To correct the historical injustices relating to prohibition, the MORE Act offers the opportunity to petition for resentencing and expungement. This will eliminate this discrimination and create new opportunities for individuals desperate to advance their careers, education, and quality of life. Immigrants will also benefit from the MORE Act because they will no longer be subject to deportation or citizenship denial solely based on a marijuana infraction. 

    Send a message in support of The MORE Act in less than 30 seconds now!

  • by NORML June 27, 2019

    Today, Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced legislation to allow for interstate commerce when it comes to state-legal cannabis programs.

    “Interstate commerce is good for both patients and consumers, as it will decrease the amount of time it takes for recently enacted medical programs to see products on the shelves and increase the variety of consumer options in both the adult-use and medical marketplaces,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said. “Just as Americans around the country enjoy Kentucky bourbon, so should they be allowed to enjoy Oregon cannabis.”

    “In short, it’s the future and Congress ought not deny it,” Strekal concluded.

    Per the release distributed by Senator Wyden:

    Wyden and Blumenauer’s State Cannabis Commerce Act would make these existing protections permanent and expand them to include all cannabis producers and consumers in compliance with state law. The legislation would also protect producers or consumers who transport cannabis between cannabis-legal states, provided that both states have legal cannabis programs and that both states affirmatively agree to the transportation.  

    “As more and more states legalize cannabis, the gap between state and federal laws will only grow more confusing for both legal businesses and consumers,” Wyden said. “The solution is clear: the federal government needs to end its senseless and out of touch prohibition. As we fight for that ultimate goal, however, Congress can and should immediately act to protect the will of Oregonians and voters in other states from federal interference—and that should include interstate cannabis commerce.”

    “The federal government is hopelessly out of touch with the American people on cannabis,” Blumenauer said. “Last week, the House agreed and passed my amendments to forbid the federal government from interfering with cannabis programs in the states, D.C. and tribal communities. This week, we are turning to a top priority for Oregonians—allowing for interstate sale of cannabis. It’s past time we protect the states, like Oregon, that have gotten it right.”

  • by NORML June 20, 2019

    We. Did. It.

    For the first time ever, the House of Representatives just voted to restrict the Department of Justice from interfering with the states that have legalized adult-use marijuana.

    The importance of this 267 to 165 bipartisan vote on the Blumenauer amendment cannot be overstated. Today, nearly one in four Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.

    Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of our movement and the work of NORML leaders all around the country.

    “It’s past time we protect all cannabis programs,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and lead sponsor of the amendment. “We have much more work to do. The federal government is out of touch and our cannabis laws are out of date. I’m pleased that the House agrees and we are able to move forward.”

    Now, we must shift our focus to the Senate and ensure that they do not move to strip out these hard-fought protections.

    Make a contribution to our Senate Education Fund right now so we can do a full-court-press and cure those Senators who are suffering from Reefer Madness!

    Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Now is our time to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress.

    Together, we’re going to win this vote, and ultimately end marijuana prohibition from sea to shining sea. Together, we will legalize America.

    Onward to more victories,

    NORML

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 14, 2019

    Next week, the two key committees will hold hearings on various aspects of federal marijuana policy.

    The first will be held on Wednesday, June 19th, in the Small Business Committee, entitled Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry. 

    Currently, in the 10 states that have legalized adult use cannabis and the 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana programs, entrepreneurs and small businesses are unable to access the valuable programs and support of the Small Business Administration. Ultimately, this prohibition on access to resources hampers the potential to create a robust and competitive marketplace for consumers.

    It is expected that members of the committee will soon introduce legislation to address this issue and this hearing will mark the first time that Congress has discussed the issue in a formal capacity.

     

    The second hearing is to be held on Thursday, June 20th, in the Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss various bills that are pending regarding medical cannabis programs and veterans access. For years, NORML has supported legislation introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, entitled The Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow veterans living in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program to discuss cannabis as part of their healthcare plan and allow VA doctors to fill out state-legal paperwork.

    Presently, V.A. doctors are forbidden from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a recommendation, thus forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Passage of either of these bills would lift this prohibition.

    You can send a message to your lawmakers in support of the Veterans Equal Access Act by clicking here. 

    In the 114th Congress, majorities in both the US House and Senate voted to include similar language as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. However, Republicans sitting on the House Appropriations Committee elected to remove the language from the bill during a concurrence vote. Similar language was also included during the 115th Congress in the Senate yet stripped out by Republican leadership.

    Veterans are increasingly turning to medical cannabis as an effective alternative to opioids and other conventional medications. A retrospective review of patients’ symptoms published in 2014 in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reported a greater than 75 percent reduction CAPS (Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale) symptom scores following cannabis therapy.

    A recently released poll conducted by The American Legion showed that nearly 1 in 4 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

    You can see a full list of pending federal efforts and contact your lawmakers in support at https://norml.org/act.

     

  • by Representative Earl Blumenauer April 30, 2019

    A poll commissioned by the American Legion showed that more than 1 in 5 veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition. VA healthcare providers, however, are prohibited from providing the paperwork necessary to complete a state-legal medical cannabis recommendation, forcing military veterans to seek the advice of a private, out-of-network physician. Seeking care is hard enough, and we should not make it even harder for our veterans.

    That’s why I testified today to the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding my legislation, the Veterans Equal Access Act, HR 1647, which would lift this prohibition.

    The reefer madness days are done and it’s time for Congress and the VA to face the facts surrounding marijuana — most pointedly, it’s medicinal benefits for veterans. More and more veterans are reportedly using cannabis to help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and several other ailments.

    Join me in sending a message to Congress now in support of veterans healthcare rights.

    I introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act because it is my responsibility as a Member of Congress to ensure that all Americans have access to medical treatment as recommended by their physicians.

    Today, you can make a difference and show your true support for veterans and the efficacy of medical cannabis.  Tell your members of Congress now to support the Veterans Equal Access Act – because our veterans need more from our government than words of support, we need action.

    Courage,
    Earl

     

    Earl Blumenauer
    Member of Congress

     

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