As Johnny Green previously posted, Weed News received a press media advisory from Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office announcing a press conference kicking off the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus. This historic event, demonstrating the political power of the cannabis community, was livestreamed online and I was so pleased to be able to view this important Capitol Hill press conference from my Portland, Oregon, home, where I am so proud to cast my vote for Rep. Blumenauer.
Colorado Democrat Jared Polis joined Blumenauer, along with Republicans Dana Rohrabacher from California and Alaska Republican Don Young. The true bipartisan makeup of this caucus is extremely important as any national marijuana law reform must navigate the political landscape that includes a Republican Congress and White House.
Respecting states’ rights, reforming the 280E tax code, allowing veterans to utilize medical cannabis and enabling effective medical research were all issues touched upon at the press conference. The representatives acknowledged their different constituencies and political philosophies, remarked upon how important it was that they could reach across the political divide to come to a consensus on the need to improve federal cannabis policy.
Following opening statements by the representatives, they all took questions from the media, some highlights:
On Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the caucus members stated that they expected the federal government to respect states’ rights, especially considering the campaign promises of Donald Trump and the fact that marijuana legalization is so popular in the states where it is passed (more popular than Trump, Blumenauer noted).
On conservatism and federal marijuana law reform:
“You can’t be a conservative and say that you can pick and choose. You are either for states’ rights or not,” stated Rep. Young.
The people that wrote the constitution meant for criminal matters to be addressed at the state level…
“Our Founding Fathers did not want the federal government to be involved in that kind of activity at all, Dan Rohrabacher.”
On their personal use of marijuana:
Don Young and Earl Blumenauer stated that they have never used marijuana. Dana Rohrabacher stated that he had surgery on his arm about 100 days ago, causing him severe pain and hurting his ability to sleep. Rohrabacher mentioned that he was given a cannabis-infused candle (which I had to Google to make sure that I heard him right, and what do you know, they are a real thing) that he rubbed on his arm. The Orange County Republican stated that the cannabis candle alleviated the pain and helped him sleep. Jared Polis stated that the question of their personal use really misses the point of the issue (and I completely agree).
I look forward to seeing the work of the Cannabis Congressional Caucus move forward and thank all of its members for tackling this important federal issue. Please urge your representative to join this bipartisan caucus.
Below is a press release sent out by the caucus:
Bipartisan Group Launches Historic Congressional Cannabis Caucus
Washington, DC – Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Jared Polis (CO-02), and Don Young (AK-At Large) today at the U.S. Capitol launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus – the first of its kind. (Watch today’s press conference here.)
The bipartisan Caucus will provide a forum for members of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss, learn, and work together to establish a better and more rational approach to federal cannabis policy. Co-Chairs Blumenauer, Rohrabacher, Polis, and Young today sent a letter inviting all members of the U.S. House to join the Caucus.
“The prohibition of cannabis has been a failure, and Americans across our nation are demanding a more sensible approach,” said Blumenauer. “Following the November election, federal laws are now out of step with 44 states. The time is now to come together and bring the federal government in line with the will of the American people.”
“The federal government’s decades-long approach to marijuana is a colossal, cruel joke, and most Americans know it. Not only have incalculable amounts of taxpayers’ dollars been wasted, but countless lives have been unnecessarily disrupted and even ruined by misguided law enforcement. With big-government mobilizations now widely discredited, it is time to return to the basic principles of federalism, in which the national government allows the states to determine, with their voters’ guidance, the right course to pursue. The states need friends in Congress, and the Cannabis Caucus is here to help,” said Rohrabacher.
“The results are in. A majority of Americans live in a state that has some form of legal access to cannabis, and the federal prohibition of marijuana has been a complete and utter failure,” said Polis. “At a time when partisanship is at an all-time high, I’m glad that both Democrats and Republicans can come together and work to reform marijuana laws to align with the voice of the American people. I look forward to getting to work with this Caucus, and to regulate marijuana more like alcohol.”
“In 2014, the people of Alaska voted to legalize marijuana. While I do not personally advocate for the use of marijuana, I strongly believe in my responsibility to represent the people of Alaska’s views in Congress, to speak on their behalf, and try to solve the problems they are facing,” said Young. “Because of the conflicts between Federal and State law, marijuana-related issues are no longer theoretical—they are real, and they are affecting real people in Alaska and across the country. I look forward to working with the Congressional Cannabis Caucus to educate my colleagues in the House on the issues we are facing in Alaska, and hopefully to also develop solutions to these problems.”
Increasingly, federal cannabis laws are out of touch with American voters. Ninety-five percent of Americans now live in states or territories that permit, to varying degrees, legal access to medical marijuana and/or cannabis derivatives, with even more states considering expanded access this year. Additionally, a fifth of all Americans now live in a state with legal access to the adult use of marijuana. It’s time for Congress to catch up, and the Congressional Cannabis Caucus is another step in the right direction.