Despite a less-than-friendly administration, a number of federal cannabis bills have recently been introduced to Congress. Here is a list of bills marijuana business owners should be keeping an eye on:
The Marijuana Justice Act
S.1689, sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), introduced August 1, 2017.
About: Booker’s bill would exempt cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the federal statute that governs almost every other illegal drug. In other words, it would effectively repeal the federal ban on marijuana. It would also expunges federal marijuana possession convictions, provide incentives to states to eradicate racial disparities in marijuana arrests, and create a fund for communities most impacted by the so-called War on Drugs.
The bill currently resides in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has no co-sponsors. However, since more than half of all Americans now support legalization, the bill is less of a long-shot than one might expect.
Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act
H.2920, sponsored by Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), introduced June 15, 2017.
About: The CARERS Act would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution. It is one of the most widely-supported marijuana legalization bills, with twenty-five co-sponsors.
The bill currently resides in three House committees: Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Veterans’ Affairs. There is also an identical bill in the Senate, S.683.
Veterans Equal Access Act
H.1820, sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), introduced March 30, 2017.
About: The Veterans Equal Access Bill would permit healthcare providers to prescribe, recommend, and discuss medical marijuana with veterans. Currently, Veterans Affairs doctors in medical marijuana states are prohibited from providing recommending marijuana as a treatment option.
The bill currently has 18 co-sponsors, and currently resides in the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.
Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017
S.1803, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), introduced September 13, 2017.
About: If passed, Senator Hatch’s bill would make it easier to research medical marijuana. In announcing the bill, Hatch said the country has experimented with a variety of state solutions “without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana.” In his speech on the Senate floor, Hatch reminded his colleagues that he is “strongly against the use of recreational marijuana. But I worry that in our zeal to enforce the law, we too often blind ourselves to the medicinal benefits of natural substances like cannabis.” Hatch co-wrote the bill with Brian Schatz (D-HI), and it is also supported by senators such as Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE).
The bill currently resides in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it has been since it was introduced.
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act
H.1841, sponsored by Representative Jared Polis (D-Colorado), introduced March 30, 2017.
About: Like Senator Hatch’s bill, H.1841 would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. Instead, H.1841 proposes to regulate it like alcohol. The bill is part of a bicameral legislative package introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and designed to reform the way marijuana is regulated.
The bill has 17 co-sponsors, and resides in five House committees: Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Natural Resources, and Agriculture.
Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017
H.1227, sponsored by Representative Tom Garrett (R-Virginia), introduced on February 27, 2017.
About: H.1227 would also remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, plus eliminate criminal penalties for importing, exporting, manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with an intent to distribute. The bill has 15 co-sponsors, and resides in both the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee and the House Judiciary Subcommittee.
Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017
H.972, sponsored by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), introduced on February 7, 2017.
About: H.975 seeks to promote states’ rights to legalize marijuana. It would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, and protect individuals who produce, possess, distribute, dispense, administer, or deliver marijuana in compliance with state laws from criminal prosecution.
It has 24 co-sponsors, and resides in the House Subcommittee on Health where it has been since it was introduced.