Reps. Gabbard & Young Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Marijuana Reform

March 7, 2019, 1:05 PM HST (Updated March 7, 2019, 1:06 PM)
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Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young (AK-AL) introduced two bipartisan marijuana bills on Thurday, March 7, 2019:

  • Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young (AK-AL)introduced two bipartisan marijuana bills on March 7, 2019. Courtesy photo.

    The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances list and allow states the freedom to regulate marijuana as they choose, without federal interference.

  • The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019 would study the effects of state legalized medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana programs from a variety of perspectives, including state revenues, public health, substance abuse and opioids, criminal justice and employment.

 

The lawmakers held a press conference Thurday, along with NORML, the Minority Cannabis Business Association, the National Holistic Healing Center Medical Marijuana Dispensary, the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, and supporters, to urge immediate passage of these bills.

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Our archaic marijuana policies– based on stigma and outdated myths–have been used to wage a failed War on Drugs.” said Rep. Gabbard. “Families have been torn apart, communities left fractured, and over-criminalization and mass incarceration have become the norm. In 2017 alone, our country arrested 600,000 people just for possession of marijuana. Our bipartisan legislation takes a step toward ending the failed War on Drugs, ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, and ensuring that our policies are guided by facts and the truth.”

“I am a passionate supporter of a states’ rights approach to cannabis policy. For too long, the Federal government has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own marijuana policy, and it is long past time Congress modernized these outdated laws,” said Congressman Don Young. “Since Alaska legalized marijuana, I have heard from many constituents – including small business owners – who have been impacted by archaic Federal marijuana policy that criminalizes them for selling marijuana-derived products otherwise legal under state law. Additionally, our nation’s prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders who too frequently have their lives ruined by harmful and outdated policies.  As co-founder of the House Cannabis Caucus, I am proud to introduce two pieces of bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to get the Federal government out of the way of state-level policymaking. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Gabbard and my friends on both sides of the aisle to see these initiatives become law.”

“The End Federal Prohibition Act is about acknowledging political, scientific, and economic reality,” Erik Altieri, executive director, NORML, said. “Marijuana legalization is here to stay and it is time that federal policy reflect that. This legislation is effective in its simplicity, it will deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and end federal prohibition once and for all, full stop.”

“The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 removes a roadblock impeding criminal justice reform, patient and consumer access, research and innovation,” Shanita Penny, president, Minority Cannabis Industry Association (MCBA), said. “Removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act is essential to comprehensive reform and the evolution of the cannabis industry into one that is equitable and sustainable.”

“We applaud Representative Gabbard and Young for engaging in the important issue of ending federal marijuana prohibition,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for Drug Policy Alliance. “We believe that marijuana reform must acknowledge that the decades of harm caused by prohibition fell on the backs of communities of color. Legislation must deschedule and further address harms comprehensively. The bills introduced today should be a part of the conversation as Congress tackles marijuana with a racial justice lens.”

“The Marijuana Data Collection Act represents a critical foundation to larger cannabis reform. Without quality data, it is impossible to move policy forward,” David Mangone, Esq., Director of Government Affairs & Counsel, Americans for Safe Access, said. “The National Academies has already recognized the therapeutic potential of cannabis, and we trust that the data obtained by this bill will show that opponents of medical cannabis have been hiding behind weak science and even weaker talking points.”

Regarding the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019, Aaron Smith, executive director of National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), said: “We are grateful to Representatives Gabbard and Young for continuing their support for ending cannabis prohibition by introducing these bills. States should be able to make their own laws without fear of federal interference, and it doesn’t make any sense for us to waste resources targeting regulated cannabis businesses in states that have enacted more sensible policies.

Regarding the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019, Eric Goepel, founder & CEO, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, said: “There have been over 100,000 veteran suicides and overdoses in the last 15 years. Millions of veterans have been prescribed, both in the VA and private health, cocktails of addictive and toxic drugs without evidence or alternatives. In their own words, veterans will tell you how cannabis has provided relief and hope when nothing else worked. If it helps veterans, it can help all Americans. The time is long past due to end this 80 year injustice and dismantle prohibition.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy “supports the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act because removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act is the single most important step Congress can take on the long journey to end the harms caused by federal cannabis prohibition—a failed policy which has targeted and disproportionately harmed communities of color, low-income communities, and youth.”

Background: As part of her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has long called for sensible marijuana policies. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list and the Marijuana Data Collection Act would evaluate states’ marijuana policies. She has called for closing the gaps between federal and state lawto resolve current contradictions and provide legally abiding marijuana businesses with clear access to financial services. Last congress, she cosponsored the Marijuana Justice Act to reform unjust federal marijuana laws and empower minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs, the RESPECT resolution to encourage equity in the marijuana industry and more.

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