Yesterday, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that would largely prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.
This bill is a companion to a historic CARERS Act introduced earlier this month in the Senate with bipartisan support.
The bill would make production, distribution, and possession of marijuana for medical purposes that’s legal under state law legal under federal law, and would make conducting research on marijuana easier, among other things.
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced a bill Tuesday that would change federal law so that the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), commonly known as the “drug czar,” is no longer prohibited from studying the legalization of marijuana and no longer required to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana for medical or broader adult use.
Specifically, H.R. 4046, the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014, would amend the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 to remove the following language from the obligations of the director:
(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of [the Controlled Substances Act] and.take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that --
(A) is listed in schedule I of section 812 of this title; and
(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;
Rep. Cohen and other members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform slammed the ONDCP during a hearing last week. Rep. Cohen chided the office for failing to address the National Institute on Drug Abuse's obstruction of research into the medical benefits of marijuana. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) criticized it for relying on marijuana “propaganda.” ONDCP Deputy Director Michael Botticelli drew criticism for refusing to acknowledge that marijuana poses less potential harm to the consumer than heroin or methamphetamine.
If you haven't already done so, please sign our Change.org petition asking President Obama to reschedule marijuana and share it with your friends.
Members of Congress grilled a representative from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Tuesday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and slammed the office for failing to acknowledge key facts about marijuana. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) chided the drug czar's office for relying on marijuana "propaganda." Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) criticized the office for failing to address the National Institute on Drug Abuse's obstruction of research into the medical benefits of marijuana.
During his testimony regarding the Obama administration's marijuana policy, ONDCP Deputy Director Michael Botticelli refused to acknowledge that marijuana poses less potential harm to the consumer than heroin or methamphetamine.
Some of the highlights of the hearing:
Rep. Blumenauer telling Dir. Botticelli "you're part of the problem." ...
Rep. Cohen telling Dir. Botticelli to "ask Phillip Seymour Hoffman if marijuana is as dangerous as heroin." ...
Rep. Gerry Connolly pressing the witness on the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.
In this interview posted today, Cato Institute’s Caleb Brown talks with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) about the federal government’s reaction to the end of marijuana prohibition in Colorado and Washington and the future of marijuana policy reform. Take a few minutes to watch this:
Rep. Cohen is a great ally to reformers, whether he is sponsoring legislation to stop federal interference with state marijuana laws, proposing commissions to examine federal marijuana policy, or grilling DEA Bush-holdover Michele Leonhart on her politically driven inability to understand science.
More and more states, in conflict with federal policy, are permitting the use of medical marijuana and decriminalizing its recreational use. In order to examine this unnecessary conflict as well as the current federal policy’s broad impacts, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced legislation last week to create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy.
“[I]t’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow…we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. “
Congressman Cohen is optimistic that a national commission would provide the government with the tools necessary to create sensible policy.
A similar commission was created in 1971. Released two years later, the “National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse,” which was led by former Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer, called for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The Shafer Commission’s recommendations were disregarded and the War on Drugs nonsensically expanded. As a result, countless responsible marijuana users have been saddled with criminal records, nonviolent offenders have been crammed into our overcrowded prisons, and taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources continue to be wasted in the attempt to impose failed marijuana policies.
The majority of Americans believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. Forty years of ignorance is enough; it’s time to re-evaluate federal policy.
Breaking news out of Congress! Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is leading a new bipartisan bill that would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act, so that anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law would be immune from federal prosecution.
The Respect for State Marijuana Laws Act would protect marijuana users, dispensary operators, and other individuals who have been courageous enough to help take production and sales above ground into state-regulated markets.
Three Republicans and three Democrats have currently co-signed the bipartisan bill: Reps. Rohrabacher, Justin Amash (R-MI), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Jared Polis (D-CO).
If you don’t see your member of Congress on that list, please use our online action center to urge them to co-sponsor the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act and then urge your friends to do the same!