Cannabis, Politics, and Reform: Earl Blumenauer of Oregon - News | MERRY JANE
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Cannabis, Politics, and Reform: Earl Blumenauer of Oregon

Congress’ Top Marijuana Advocate, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, has pursued legal marijuana for more than two decades.

by Justin O'Connell

State marijuana policy has been revolutionized in recent years. 25 states currently have some form of legal marijuana, and many more are evaluating legalization. Still, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer has led the movement to legalize marijuana in Oregon since 1973. He’s been a crucial proponent of legislation which decriminalized marijuana in the Beaver State, the first state in the United States to do so.  

Blumenauer, born in 1948 in Portland, Oregon, attended Lewis and Clark College in the City of Roses. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, where he successfully campaigned to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in Oregon in 2014.

The Congressman currently plans to travel to every state with a cannabis initiative to spread the message about how marijuana prohibition has failed. He did this ahead of legalization in Oregon.

Rolling Stone named Congressman Blumenauer Congress’ “Top Legal Pot Advocate." Along with Jared Polis, the Congressman penned a report called, “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy”. In the report, the authors go over the history of marijuana prohibition in the United States.

The Congressman laments on his Congressional web page how 50% of those in prisons are there for drug related charges. “Millions of people have been caught for marijuana offenses, and over 660,000 are arrested each year for possession.”

The Congressman acknowledges how Americans' beliefs towards marijuana legalization have liberalized in recent years.

He has supported and introduced more than two dozen bills to enable states to draft their own marijuana laws without federal interference; tax and regulate marijuana; remove bans on industrial hemp; enable marijuana industry to operate like a normal business; laws to allow the Veterans Administration doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients; laws to allow students with marijuana-related convictions to be eligible for financial aid, and create a sensible drug policy working group to achieve this.

Most of the Congressman’s bills have failed. Nevertheless, over the years, the public’s views of marijuana have justified his efforts.

Mr. Blumenauer has even spoken to the United Nations to encourage the intergovernmental organization to overturn its draconian, anti-marijuana stance, which precludes nation-states from pursuing national marijuana legislation.

The Congressman believes the country is closer to ending federal prohibition than people think. He supports Hillary Clinton for president. He endorsed her over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries.

I have no doubt in my mind that she will build on what the Obama administration has done,” he told Rolling Stone about Mrs. Clinton’s stance on marijuana.  “She understands the insanity of the banking prohibition. So I think we can get banking, tax equity, research, and a couple of little fixes that give the industry the certainty that it needs going forward under Hillary.”


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Justin is a California-based writer who covers music, cannabis, craft beer, Baja California, science and technology. His writing has appeared in VICE and the San Diego Reader.



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