A few Republicans in the House don’t consider their horses for cannabis reform activities in the Senate.
Reps Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, and Don Young, R-Alaska, introduced a bill – Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses, and Health Professionals – on May 12th, putting cannabis off the planned list Substances should be deleted according to the law on regulated substances.
In addition, the legislation would also protect depositaries providing financial services to “legitimate” cannabis-related companies. Providing a safe haven for veterans to use, possess, or transport medical cannabis in accordance with state laws; and conduct two studies of cannabis for pain management and impairment by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the terms of the law.
Joyce and Young’s efforts come because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., And Cory Booker, DN.J., continue to work on federal reform bill to end the ban in the upper chamber. They published a joint statement in February on their comprehensive reform efforts, but have not yet implemented the measure.
Major cannabis reforms were carried out in the last House of Representatives Congress on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would have eliminated cannabis as an I-Controlled Substance and removed criminal penalties for any person who manufactures, distributes or possesses cannabis. While it passed the House last year, 228-164, the bill was never passed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The main sponsor of the MORE Act, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., plans to reintroduce the 87-page law of this Congress, he said during a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Justice in March.
Meanwhile, Joyce and Young presented their bill on Wednesday. The 14-page legislation isn’t that lengthy, but it does emphasize the removal of cannabis as a controlled substance, banking protection, reforms for veterans, and mandatory NIH studies. It does not contain provisions on social justice and equity.
“With more than 40 states acting on this matter, it is time for Congress to recognize that an ongoing cannabis ban is neither tenable nor the will of American voters.” Said Joyce all in one Press release.
“My legislation responds to the American people’s demand for change and our states’ need for clarity by creating an effective federal cannabis legal framework that helps veterans, supports small businesses and their workers, enables critical research, and tackles the opioid crisis while respecting the right of states to make their own decisions about cannabis policy that is best for their constituents, ”he said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this law into effect so we can carry out sensible and meaningful cannabis reform that improves lives and livelihoods.”
Joyce’s advocacy of cannabis reform isn’t new. He was also a co-sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act and supported that legislation on the floor of the house when it was passed with 321-101 votes last month.
In 2018, the House Appropriations Committee passed a provision known as the Joyce Amendment (formerly the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment) that prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from spending federal funds on prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis companies.
A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, started the cannabis caucus of Congress in 2017 with representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, Jared Polis, D-Colo and Young, who now jointly chair the caucus with Joyce.
“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policy has stood in the way of both individual freedom and the rights of a state under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. It’s been a long time since these archaic laws were updated for the 21st century, ”said Young, whose home state Alaska made an election legalization of cannabis in 2014. “This bill takes important steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medicinal cannabis to veterans. In addition, state-licensed cannabis companies can finally access traditional financial services.”
The bill would also direct the US Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to enact regulations to regulate cannabis along the lines of the alcohol industry within a year of going into effect.
Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement that he was encouraged to see Republican leadership end the federal ban and criminalization of cannabis. The reform is a bipartisan matter ripe for an immediate resolution, he said.
“With an overwhelming majority of Americans in support of ending cannabis bans, it is clear that our country has a mandate to create a legal industry that supports both medicinal and adult use,” said Hawkins. “This is a bipartisan issue and the Common Sense Reform Act for Veterans, Small Businesses and Health Professionals introduced by the Representatives. Dave Joyce and Don Young are a promising step forward.”