We’ve seen bills like this before, even on the federal level, that aim to legalize cannabis, end prohibition and regulate the plant in the same way as we do alcohol. Unfortunately, past versions of the bill never gained enough support to be passed by either the House or Senate – but things have changed a lot in the last couple of years and support has grown. Representative Earl Blumenauer, who has been an active supporter of legalization, introduced both H.R. 420 and the official launch of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
“While the bill number may be a bit tongue in cheek, the issue is very serious. Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch, and have negatively impacted countless lives,” Blumenauer said in Press Release. “Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing number of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.”
H.R. 420, also called the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act”, would completely remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This would also remove the regulatory authority from the Drug Enforcement Administration, and instead place it with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – which would then be renamed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives.
The bill would allow the shipping and transporting of marijuana between states where it is legal, but it would remain illegal to transport marijuana into states where the plant remains prohibited. It would also allow the government to make arrests and prosecute in cases where cannabis businesses are acting as a front to sell other illegal drugs, are selling to minors, or other similar issues – just as it does with the alcohol industry.
“The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions, and harmed state-legal business,” Joyce from the Cannabis Caucus said in the Press Release. “I look forward to working with [the Caucus] to advance sensible cannabis reforms that will benefit our nation’s veterans, patients, and businesses across the country.”
In the past week since the most recent legislative session started, there has already been three separate pieces of cannabis-related legislation introduced. Along with the promising H.R. 420, another bill known as the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act – sponsored by Representative Lou Correa – almost perfectly mirrors the Cole Memo that was rescinded early in 2018 by then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The fact that cannabis policy reform is finally getting real attention and support (H.R. 420 has 26 co-sponsors and the Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act has at least six) suggests that we could finally see the changes we’ve been fighting for over the past few decades.