A team of federal lawmakers believe the uncertainly surrounding the Trump Administration’s approach to legal marijuana could inspire Congress to finally get serious about passing reforms in the 2017 session.
U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis, Dana Rohrabacher and Don Young, collectively calling themselves the “Congressional Cannabis Caucus,” plan to reintroduce a series of marijuana-related bills in the coming weeks aimed at protecting the whole of the cannabis industry from the potential wrath of a U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The goal of this mission, according to a report from The Cannabist, is to get the majority of Congress to join forces with respect to this issue in an effort to ensure the new administration does not hinder decades of progress.
One of the proposals to be released from its cage on Capitol Hill is the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” which was sponsored in 2015 by Representative Jared Polis of Colorado. The bill is designed to erase marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and make the substance a socially acceptable inebriant similar to alcoholic beverages.
“I’m more hopeful than ever before that we can move legislation like the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” Polis said.
President Donald Trump said throughout his campaign that when it comes to the issue of marijuana legalization he would respect states’ rights, but his selection for U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, has not expressed the same sentiment. In fact, Sessions has largely criticized the Obama Administration for taking a hands-off approach to legal marijuana – indicating that he may be prepared to enforce federal law.
However, some members of the caucus say the Trump Administration has too much in front of it to put any energy toward disassembling legal marijuana.
“This is a struggle and will continue to be, but this is something where I honestly don’t think the new administration, which has probably enough controversy on its hands, is going to knowingly pick a fight with what, almost without exception, was approved by local voters,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer from Oregon.
Although much of the cannabis industry fears the worst from an Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the senator, who has not yet given any indication about what he plans to do with legal marijuana states, says Congress needs to change federal law instead of worrying out about what he would do if confirmed to take over at the Justice Department.
“I think one obvious concern is that the United States Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act,” Sessions said during his confirmation hearing. “So if we need to…if that’s something [that] is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not so much the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
So far, no federal marijuana legislation has ever received a hearing in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate.