by Michelle Rutter, NCIA’s Government Relations Manager
The 116th Congress just began, but there’s already been a flurry of new cannabis bills filed. Let’s take a look at some of the first pieces of legislation to be filed in the House of Representatives on the topic:
Bill: H.R. 420: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act
Introduced by: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
What It Does: This bill was introduced in the 115th Congress by now-Governor Jared Polis (D-CO). Filed in the 116th Congress by Rep. Blumenauer, this bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act entirely. It would also transfer cannabis enforcement authority from Drug Enforcement Administration to a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives. Both shipping or transporting cannabis into states that have not legalized it would continue to be prohibited. Last year, the bill garnered 26 cosponsors.
Bill: H.R. 493: Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act
Introduced by: Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA)
Additional cosponsors: Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-AK), Dina Titus (D-NV), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Katie Hill (D-CA)
What it does: This bipartisan bill seeks to enshrine the now-rescinded Cole Memo into federal law. The legislation directs the Attorney General, in enforcing the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act relating to cannabis, to focus on certain enforcement priorities that were outlined in the Cole Memo, such as:
- Distribution of marijuana to minors.
- Revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.
- Diversion of marijuana from States where it is legal under State law in some form to other States.
- State-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity.
- Violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
- Drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.
- The growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands.
- Marijuana possession or use on Federal property.
This bill was previously introduced at the very end of the 115th Congress. NCIA is proud to have endorsed this legislation.
Bill: H.R. 127: Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2019
Introduced by: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Additional cosponsors: Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
What it does: This bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to state that regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties do not apply to a person who produces, possesses, distributes, dispenses, administers, tests, recommends, or delivers medical marijuana in compliance with state law. The bill also excludes “cannabidiol” (CBD) from the definition of “marijuana” and limits the concentration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in CBD to 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. The bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to terminate the Public Health Service’s interdisciplinary review process that is used to evaluate applications for medical marijuana research, opening up a multitude of research opportunities. The bill requires the DEA to license manufacturers and distributors of marijuana for medical research;, for HHS to register practitioners to conduct research, and for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to authorize VA health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in their states’ cannabis programs.
Many more (possibly dozens!) of cannabis bills are expected to be filed in the next few months. NCIA will continue to track these pieces of legislation and endorse critical cannabis reforms on Capitol Hill.