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Blumenauer Continues Federal Cannabis Reform Efforts

Feb 20, 2019

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U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) remains at the forefront of efforts to change the way cannabis is regulated at the national level. That is especially important, since that industry is a growing part of the economy in Oregon, which Blumenauer has represented in Congress since 1996.

In a January 9 press release, Blumenauer announced that he would return as co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which he co-founded. Other members include Co-chair U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Lee was the first woman of color to co-chair the caucus.

Blumenauer said the caucus provides a forum for its members to “discuss, learn and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy” and
“collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws.”

 “Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform and our movement is cresting,” Blumenauer said, noting that national support is “at an all-time high and we saw several states move toward legalization last November.”

Rep. Lee said that she wants to ensure that any reform goes “hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs.”

“For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis,” Lee said, adding that she wants to emphasize equity in the industry and “inclusion of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.”

Representing Ohio, which is among the states that have already legalized cannabis, Rep. Joyce called for “responsible, commonsense” policies.

 “The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions and harmed state-legal businesses,” Joyce said.

Rep. Young pointed out that 98 percent of Americans now live in states or territories that permit, to varying degrees, legal access to medical marijuana and/or cannabis derivatives, with even more states considering expanded access this year. He added that a “quarter of all Americans now live in a state with legal access to the adult use of marijuana.”

“The idea of States’ Rights has been a central tenet of this movement and one that I believe will ultimately carry the day,” Young said.

As part of these efforts, Blumenauer has introduced House Resolution 420. It is being dubbed the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act.

In a January 9 press release, Blumenauer said that under the bill, cannabis would be removed from the federal Controlled Substances Act and be overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

HR 420 was introduced on January 9. It has been referred to the House Committees on Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

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