Since Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis in the 1970’s, I have been working to correct the disconnect between federal cannabis policy and the needs and wishes of the American people.
Now, with the most cannabis supported Congress in history, it is time for action to get federal policy aligned with what the American public needs, and what forty-seven states have done to legalize some form of cannabis. Last fall, I outlined a blueprint on the steps that should be taken in this Congress, with a role for many committees to address this policy gap with action, and we are now seeing some of that come to life.
Last week, the most important step ever by any committee was taken in the Financial Services Committee after a three-day long mark-up on the SAFE Banking Act. This is the first time that major cannabis legislation is headed to the floor and passed out of committee with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 45 to 15, including nine Republicans.
Today, we introduced the bicameral, bipartisan STATES Act, to allow each state to determine its own marijuana policy within its borders. This is the highest profile legislation that has broad support on both sides of the capitol. I’ve also Introduced other legislation which could help advance this agenda, especially the Veterans Equal Access Act, to allow our veterans access to medical marijuana.
The failed war on drugs waged by Richard Nixon has devastated communities of color for far too long as well. Along with Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chair Barbara Lee, we’re working toward restorative justice with bills in Congress like the Marijuana Justice Act, the REFER Act, and the RESPECT Resolution to restore, rebuild and reinvest in communities disproportionately impacted by the failed war on drugs.
As outlined in our blueprint for cannabis policy reform, there are many opportunities for the for congressional committees to move forward with hearings and legislation to help close this policy gap. Ending the failed prohibition of cannabis is not a matter of if, but when. I will continue to fight to legalize and ensure that Congress catches up to the American people. I’m excited about the increased support and the potential for action as we continue to blaze a trail for reform.