Marijuana is going mainstream. It is inevitable. It is in the news daily, in large part because of the efforts of some legislative superstars who work hard to bring cannabis to Main Street from coast to coast. These lawmakers, there are even a couple Republicans, have been instrumental in changing the laws.
Marijuana has come a long way, sure. There are miles yet to go, however, as the Trump administration, especially Attorney General Jeff Session, are once again ramping up the war on pot. Or, they’re trying to anyway.
Let’s introduce you to some of them and at the same time catch you up on exactly what is in the works for cannabis legislation right now. It is wise to keep up with current events because a lot of the time you can take action through a simple email fax. We need all the help we can get, Jeff Sessions is on the warpath.
A PERSONAL APPEAL
As a patient, and I would like to make a personal appeal. I know that cannabis doesn’t rate as high as some other things on the scale of import, considering all the horrendous things that are happening in our world. However, in my world, cannabis saves my life daily. I was in a ball on my bed earlier. Desperate for some relief so I could get on with my day, but stuck because my body would not cooperate. I couldn’t move, let alone write.
I have Fibromyalgia. I recently moved to a different climate, and I am having a hard time adjusting physically. I have had massive flares twice this week now. When I say massive flare, I am talking utter devastation.
Without cannabis, I would be a goner. I would have to go to the hospital eventually, as the nerve pain would eventually drive me out of my mind. It’s absolutely unbearable.
I implore you, on behalf of myself and millions of others across the country who find themselves helped by this plant, we need this to be on your radar. Yes, it is gaining in popularity, but that doesn’t mean we can relax, we must push harder than ever.
Join these fantastic legislators and me in finally ending this ridiculous prohibition, so we can move on to more important things, like how to spend all that money flowing in from taxes like in Colorado with their surplus of MILLIONS.
CALIFORNIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE DANA ROHRABACHER
Dana Rohrabacher, the State Representative from California’s 48th District not only supports medical marijuana but he promotes personal use as well.
He is a proponent of states rights, personal freedom, and limited Government. As a matter of fact, he was the sponsor of a bill called Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, which is still in use to this day.
Rep. Rohrabacher recently reintroduced the bill, and it’s now called the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. He was the co-sponsor on a lot of laws as well and is an enthusiastic advocate for legalizing marijuana entirely and allowing states to develop individual systems for how to deal with it.
Rep. Rohrabacher talks a lot about the huge waste of money it is to prosecute offenders for smoking pot. He knows that the country could save millions if not billions of dollars if only they would stop the war on a simple plant that heals.
“This impressive vote,” said the California Republican after a vote to legalize marijuana passed in the House, “is deeply gratifying. It shows the people’s representatives really can reflect the overwhelming sentiment of Americans to do the right thing. Too many patients, for too long, have suffered under a regime that encourages doctors to prescribe opiates rather than the cannabinoids they deem much safer and more effective. It’s the federal government and out-of-control Justice Department enforcers who have acted as the real gateway drug. The good news is that the House of Representatives just took away that deadly connection.”
VIRGINIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE TOM GARRETT
Tom Garett from Virginia’s 5th District has introduced comprehensive marijuana reform legislation. This one is called the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 HR 1227.
The bill proposes to eliminate federal penalties for growing or possessing marijuana. This bill also offers to allow states to regulate their marijuana industry as they see fit, free from governmental interference. This legislation would also remove pot from the Controlled Substances Act, which will allow for more studies both medicinally and recreationally.
Mr. Garrett keeps popping up on the radar for the community. He is a relative newcomer to the scene and doesn’t even have a grade yet on NORML’s Congressional Scorecard. He absolutely thinks marijuana should be removed from the list of controlled substances and, like the others, believes that states should have the freedom to legalize and regulate as they deem fit.
SENATOR CORY BOOKER
There are several components to the bill. It proposes to remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, ending the federal prohibition on the plant. The bill would “incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests. Third, it would “expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession.” Fourth, it would allow federal prisoners who are doing time for marijuana-related violations to petition for resentencing. And lastly, maybe the most important one after legalization, is that it would create a community fund that would invest in the communities that have been devastated by the failed war on drugs.
Marijuana legislation is currently having a hard time seeing the light of day across the board. This is one of the several bills that are stuck in limbo. With the Republican-run Senate and House, legislation keeps getting blocked and delayed. There is one bill that continues to stay afloat, and that brings me to my next superstar.
OREGON STATE REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER
Along with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced legislation called the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. This amendment will protect lawful state medical marijuana programs from federal interference. It strips away funds from the feds for prosecuting marijuana offenders. Specifically, it would limit the Justice Department from taking any action against state-run medical cannabis growers, retailers, and consumers.
Currently, this legislation is being deliberately held up by the House. The House Rules Committee nixed the amendment for consideration in the 2018 fiscal year budget. The removal, however, has very little to do with the budget and a Senate Appropriation Committee had already approved a version of the attached amendment.
Like many other addendums, this amendment is attached to the budget vote. The same one that keeps popping up with the debt ceiling attached, The Senate had already voted to include it. Then, at the direction of Jeff Sessions, the House Rules committee removed it from consideration, placing it in limbo with the other bills.
Blumenauer has teamed up with a couple of other lawmakers and has other legislation on the table as well. However, it is attached to the debt ceiling vote, so along with all the rest, it is safe until December 8. The sponsor’s of the bill are simply unsure what the next step is going to be at this time.
SENATOR RON WYDEN (D-OR) & STATE REPRESENTATIVE JARED POLIS (D-CO)
Senator Ron Wyden teamed up with Reps Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis, and they have introduced legislation in the House and the Senate. Their bill is called The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act/Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (SB 776 and HB 1841 / HB 1823).
This legislation would permit states to establish individual policies on how best to regulate the legal marijuana industry. This bill would also remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, as well as remove the power from the Drug Enforcement Agency to prosecute for possession, production, and sales of marijuana. Also, the bill puts forth an excise tax levied on the sale of marijuana.
This bill is currently under committee review in the House and the Senate.
THE CONSERVATIVES THAT HATE MARIJUANA
Right now many of these bills and amendments are stuck in this limbo. Things were rolling right along until the election last November. Attorney General Jeff Sessions started his war against marijuana immediately.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS
Jeff Sessions contends that good people don’t smoke marijuana. He also says that marijuana use causes “life-wrecking dependancy” which is only “slightly less awful than heroin.” Of course, he keeps talking about the gateway theory and the danger to children and families.
At this point, though, every single bit of it has been proven unfounded. Including the gateway theory, which has repeatedly been debunked.
Sessions is attempting to ramp up the panic from the reefer madness days and spouting off all sorts of derogatory rhetoric designed to scare the crap out of everyone like it did the first time. However, now there are states where it is legal, and studies are proving that all of these marijuana myths are false.
ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE TRENT FRANKS
Despite the efforts of the few Republicans listed earlier, Sessions, along with Trent Franks and a few others are determined to continue their war. Franks may even be worse than Sessions. Thankfully, Franks doesn’t have as much reach as the Attorney General.
Franks adamantly insists that cannabis isn’t medicinal and that advocates and doctors are lying about its effectiveness. He literally said, “However, the current debate to legalize marijuana is not based on medical need. Rather, it is nothing more than a ruse being used by a clandestine few, who prey upon those groups who believe the debate centers only upon marijuana as a potential medicine in order to create language that will ultimately become leverage to legalize hard drugs across the board, and wreak complete havoc on our society.”
So, what does he propose we should do about all the people who are begging for the legalization of their effective medicine? “The compassionate answer to this debate is to grant greater access to the legitimate pharmaceutical drugs that have been proven effective in providing the relief and treatment essential to America’s medical patients.”
Pharmaceuticals. In the middle of an opiate epidemic with hundreds of people dying daily, he wants people on MORE prescription chemicals. And he has the balls to call that compassionate.
As long as men like these are in any position of power, we must continue to push back.
NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO EASE THE PRESSURE
With Trump winning the election and placing Jeff Sessions as Attorney General legalization efforts at the federal level have realized a setback to be sure. However, the end to this ridiculous prohibition is on the horizon.
Regardless, now is not the time to ease up on the pressure. In fact, now is the time to double our efforts.
NORML.org is an excellent place to start. Not only are they excellent at keeping up to date on exactly what is happening around the country about cannabis legalization, but they are also awesome at tracking lawmakers’ views and efforts with their congressional scorecard. The most recent version can be found here. How are your reps stacking up?
Nearly 60% of Americans think that marijuana should be legal. Well over half the states have at least a medicinal marijuana program on the books. Cities are decriminalizing possession and use all over the country – most recently in Atlanta. So, common sense marijuana legislation is coming. Until the ink is dry, we need to keep the pressure on.
With the help of the aforementioned legislative all-stars, the outlook is promising.