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A package of bills dealing with the controversial future of marijuana use and legalization were the focus of a recent congressional meeting as states across the nation continue to weigh their options about how to individually deal with the drug.

cannabis 1382955 1920The hearing, which was directed by the Health Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was held Wednesday, January 15. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., the chairman of the committee, spoke at the hearing on “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” which covered a broad array of pot related policy changes.

Among those changes, according to information from Pallone, are the descheduling, rescheduling, researching and medical benefits of marijuana. “While state laws and public perception around cannabis and its derivatives have evolved over the years, much of the federal framework that regulates cannabis has stayed the same,” he said. He went on to discuss how his home state of New Jersey has approached the topic, noting voters will now see the use of marijuana questioned on the 2020 ballot.

“New Jersey is not alone in its state-level changes. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 33 states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia approved medical cannabis programs while 11 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands approved adult-use cannabis,” he added. “Although some states have changed their own policies, national laws, such as the Controlled Substances Act, have yet to change in the same way.”

According to the House Committee in Energy & Commerce, the bills, which enjoy diverse political sponsorship, being considered are:

  • H.R. 171, the "Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marihuana Act" or the "LUMMA"
  • H.R. 601, the "Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019"
  • H.R. 1151, the "Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act"
  • H.R. 2843, the "Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act"
  • H.R. 3797, the "Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019"
  • H.R. 3884, the "Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019" or the "MORE Act of 2019"

“Given the evolving landscape in the states, these bills are worthy of further discussion. I am particularly interested in hearing about how federal agencies are reducing barriers to research and enabling research on cannabis to thrive,” said Pallone. “I am also interested in how the agencies are working together to regulate a cannabis derivative recently removed from the Controlled Substances Act—cannabidiol, or CBD.”

From Twitter
Tom Angell @tomangell
JUST IN: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is formally calling on lawmakers to legalize marijuana during the short 30-day legislative session beginning this month. That means the state could be the next to legalize cannabis, and soon.

Recently, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, which would decriminalize marijuana at the state level and take it off the federal government’s list of controlled substances, was hotly debated amongst policy makers.

Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. said that particular piece of legislation is critical in addressing racial disparity in the criminal justice system related to marijuana arrests. “Removing marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances is especially just because the same racial animus motivating the enactment of marijuana laws also led to racially disparate enforcement of such laws, which has had a substantial, negative impact on minority communities. In fact, nationwide, the communities that have been most harmed by marijuana enforcement benefit the least from the legal marijuana marketplace,” he said.

Among some of the features of the MORE Act would be the creation of an Opportunity Trust Fund to fund programs in the Small Business Administration and the Department of Justice to “empower communities of color and those most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs,” said Nadler.

Last modified on Saturday, 18 January 2020
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