Representatives David Joyce and Don Young have introduced legislation to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby repealing the federal prohibition of cannabis and making states the primary regulators of the plant.
The bill, entitled the ‘‘Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act,’’ deschedules marijuana from the CSA and creates explicit safe harbors so that licensed cannabis businesses can bank with financial institutions. Other provisions in the measure allow military veterans to access state-legal marijuana programs; direct the National Institute of Health (NIH) to facilitate more expansive research into cannabis and its effects; and direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and the Department of the Treasury to promulgate regulations pertaining to labeling and regulating of cannabis in a manner that would be “similar” to alcohol.
The introduction of this legislation marks the first Republican-led effort to repeal federal marijuana laws. Representatives Young and Joyce are Republican co-Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, along with Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee.
Last year, members of the US House of Representatives advanced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (HR 3884). The vote was the first time that a chamber of Congress had ever voted in favor of legislation to repeal federal marijuana prohibition. Representative Young voted in favor of the bill while Rep. Joyce voted against it. The bill passed 228-164, with all but six democrats voting in favor and only six Republicans supporting the bill.
Commenting on the introduction of the new bill, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “It is our hope that more congressional Republicans will follow the lead of Representatives Joyce and Young, as well as the American people, in supporting an end to the failed and senseless policy of federal marijuana criminalization by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.”
Upon introduction, Congressman Young said, “For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have stood in the way of both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is long past time that these archaic laws are updated for the 21st Century. As Co-Chair of the Cannabis Caucus and Representative of a state with legal adult-use cannabis, I am proud to help introduce the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Medical Professionals Act. This bill takes significant steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans, in addition to finally permitting state-legal cannabis businesses to utilize traditional financial services.”
Congressman Joyce said, “With more than 40 States taking action on this issue, it’s past time for Congress to recognize that continued cannabis prohibition is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate. My legislation answers the American people’s call for change and addresses our States’ need for clarity by creating an effective federal regulatory framework for cannabis that will help veterans, support small businesses and their workers, allow for critical research and tackle the opioid crisis, all while respecting the rights of States to make their own decisions regarding cannabis policies that are best for their constituents. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill signed into law so that we can enact sensible and meaningful cannabis reform that will improve lives and livelihoods.”