Thanks to a group of bipartisan lawmakers, cannabis is heading to Congress.
At a press conference on Thursday, Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
The coalition is focused on easing tensions between federal and state drug laws and supporting the growing cannabis industry.
“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”
Despite the fact that the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, many in the cannabis industry worry that the appointment of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General signals a change in how federal drug laws are enforced.
However, during his campaign, President Trump supported states rights regarding marijuana laws, so it remains uncertain what the new administration’s stance towards marijuana will take.
“Alaska voted to legalize it — pretty large margin — and I believe in states’ rights and the federal government should stay out of it, period,” Young said.
Polis said that part of the reason the coalition was formed was because, “We don’t want to be a place where we rely on the goodwill of which side of the bed any attorney general wakes up on at any given day. That’s why we are pursuing statutory changes.”
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is approved in forty-four states.
Other issues the caucus members hope to tackle are federal research into cannabis, allowing medical access to military veterans, and changing tax laws to allow marijuana businesses to write-off their business expenses.