One video comment says it all “Not one legislative representative disagreed – it’s time to decriminalize cannabis, remove it from the Controlled Substances Act, and allow individuals their right to choose to use or not to use. As Congressman Cohen said, “It’s time to get it all done. Schedule 1 – gone.”
Hearing Length 2:40
House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler Release
Chairman Nadler Statement for the Subcommittee Hearing on “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform”
Washington, July 10, 2019
Tags: Regulatory Issues
Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform”:
“I thank our Crime Subcommittee Chair, the Gentlelady from California, Ms. Bass, for holding this hearing today on the need to reform our marijuana laws. I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.
“Marijuana is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for food, and it has been used medicinally all over the world since at least 2700 B.C., but its criminalization is a relatively recent phenomenon.
“The use of marijuana, which most likely originated in Asia, later spread to Europe, and made its way to the Americas when the Jamestown settlers brought it with them across the Atlantic. The cannabis plant has been widely grown in the United States and was used as a component in fabrics during the middle of the 19th century. During that time period, cannabis was also listed in the United States Pharmacopeia as a treatment for a multitude of ailments, including muscle spasms, headaches, cramps, asthma, and diabetes.
“It was only in the early part of the 20th century that marijuana began to be criminalized—mainly because of misinformation and hysteria, based at least in part on racially biased stereotypes connecting marijuana use and minorities, particularly African Americans and Latinos. Unfortunately, the same racial animus motivating enactment of these laws also led to racially disproportionate enforcement of such laws, which has had a substantial, negative impact on minority communities.
“The collateral consequences of conviction for marijuana possession—and even sometimes for a mere arrest—can be devastating. For those saddled with a criminal conviction, it can be difficult or impossible to vote, to obtain educational loans, to get a job, to maintain a professional license, to secure housing, to receive government assistance, or even to adopt a child.
“These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans. This is unacceptable and counterproductive, especially in light of the disproportionate impact that enforcement of marijuana laws has had on communities of color.
“It is not surprising, therefore, that over the past two decades, public support for legalizing marijuana has surged. States have led the way with reforms, and presently, medicinal or recreational marijuana use is legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. However, our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change.
“In my view, applying criminal penalties, with their attendant collateral consequences for marijuana offenses is unjust and harmful to our society. The use of marijuana should be viewed instead as an issue of personal choice and public health.
“An examination of our marijuana laws and potential reforms is long overdue, and I appreciate the Chair for holding this important hearing. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, and I yield back the balance of my time.”
The head of a cannabis industry lobbying group urged U.S. Congressional lawmakers Wednesday to pass legislation to protect state-legal marijuana businesses and resolve the “untenable” conflict between state and federal marijuana laws.
Neal Levine, chief executive officer of the Cannabis Trade Federation, called the current situation a “frustrating dichotomy” that creates a hazardous cash-only industry and saddles MJ businesses with higher taxes.
Advocates broadly agree that passage of the STATES Act would represent a momentous development in the reform movement, providing protections for many marijuana consumers and businesses in legal states. But questions remain about what specifically the legislation would accomplish and whether it goes far enough.
Moreover, there’s disagreement about whether lawmakers and activists should invest their political capital and efforts into the bill when several others on the table—such as the Marijuana Justice Act (MJA), the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act and others—would make broader changes to federal drug policy and include social equity provisions that are increasingly seen as vital components of any reform agenda.
United States Congress Held Historic Hearing on Cannabis Legalization Today
Today, a huge first step to ending cannabis prohibition took place in the United States Congress as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing regarding “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform.”
House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler stated in a release immediately following the historic hearing:
July 10, 2019
I just walked out of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Marijuana Laws in America and I can say with confidence that our movement’s power is cresting.
There was widespread consensus by members of both political parties that it is time to reform our failed policy of federal prohibition and criminalization. Now the question is HOW – and we’re proud to stand on the front lines with you to make it unmistakably clear to members of Congress that we must remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and end the absurdity.
You can watch the hearing HERE.
I also wanted to make sure you saw the message that Rick Steves, beloved member of the NORML Board of Directors and legendary travel writer, sent yesterday. He has generously offered to match donations made to NORML this week, all the way up to $40,000!
In just the last 24 hours, NORML supporters just like you have stepped up and already contributed over half that amount. Can you double your impact this week so we can keep up the fight?
You can read his message below.
Without the hard work, advocacy, and support of hundreds of thousands of Americans, we wouldn’t be within reach of victory.
Thank you for all you do,
NORML Political Director
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
As Congress Hears Cannabis Testimony, Advocates Form Powerful Coalition For Racial Justice
US lawmakers look to legalize pot in ‘historic’ marijuana reform hearing
- The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security debated marijuana reform.
- Reforming weed laws is gaining momentum in Congress.
- Some want lawmakers to focus pot law reform on racial and social equity.