About a week ago, a handful of lawmakers who call themselves the “Congressional Cannabis Caucus” announced that they intend to introduce legislation that would help protect the cannabis industry from a Department of Justice run by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Their announcement was just prior to his confirmation – but they believe that his being Attorney General could actually help push some lawmakers into feeling the same urgency to pass such legislation.
As promised, one of those congressmen – Dana Rohrabacher of California – has introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. This bill was previously introduced twice before, in 2013 and 2015, and didn’t gain enough support either time to make it very far. This time, however, with the uncertainty surrounding how the federal government is going to move forward in handling the cannabis industry – the bill may find more support.
“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is time to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and give states the authority to determine their own policies.
There is hope that more legislators will be more inclined to protect an industry that improves lives for patients in medical marijuana states and has entirely ended prohibition in others. Both types of industries have created countless jobs and brought in millions in tax revenue that would have gone straight into the black market otherwise. If the government isn’t ready to change their minds on prohibition, they should at least protect the states’ rights to enact their own laws.
“States throughout the country are effectively regulating and controlling marijuana for medical or broader adult use,” Capecchi said. “Federal tax dollars should not be wasted on arresting and prosecuting people who are following their state and local laws.”
Basically, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act would prevent the Department of Justice from pursuing cannabis-related cases in states where marijuana is legal, as long as people are operating within the laws in their respective state. With everything that’s going on, many of us are hoping that this piece of legislation will gain the support it needs to be passed – and that, if it does pass, Trump would be ready and willing to sign it into law.
If that were to happen, states could continue to operate as they have – and others would be able to consider legalization with less worries since there will be something binding in place that says the federal government will keep their opinions to themselves and let the states make their own decisions when it comes to cannabis.