by Morgan Fox, NCIA’s Director of Media Relations
This week, Congress will hit the ground running by holding the first cannabis policy reform hearing of 2020 only weeks into the new session. The hearing, entitled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade,” will be held by the House Energy Subcommittee on Health on Wednesday.
This hearing is expected to explore the barriers to cannabis research, the health impacts of current federal cannabis policies and the implications of reform, as well as several pieces of cannabis-related legislation including the Marijuana Opportunity, Expungement, and Reinvestment (MORE) Act, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019, the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act, and the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act.
This hearing is an excellent sign that Congress is willing to continue the groundbreaking progress it made last year.
Unfortunately, all the witnesses for the hearing are representatives of government agencies that have not been overly receptive to ending cannabis prohibition, namely the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But while we do not expect these witnesses to be cheerleaders for meaningful cannabis policy reform, there will no doubt be many tough questions asked by lawmakers who understand the importance of changing our nation’s outdated and harmful federal laws.
The hearing also presents an opportunity to help inform members of the subcommittee and others in Congress about the facts on this issue, as well as to show them that the cannabis industry is united in its common goal of removing cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances in a way that helps address the harms caused by prohibition, and let them know we are committed to working with them to address any concerns. A coalition of cannabis industry groups will be submitting a joint letter to the subcommittee, which will be available later this week, outlining these areas of agreement. NCIA will also be submitting written testimony for the congressional record.
You can watch the hearing here and we will be following up afterward with more information as well as responses, so stay tuned!