In a year which has been heralded as a time of change for federal marijuana laws and policies, the first federal bill proposing a change has been introduced in the United States Congress.
H.R. 331 was introduced January 5th and is sponsored by California Representative Barbara Lee (13th District). The official Congressional description of the bill’s purpose is, “To amend the Controlled Substances Act so as to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.”
At the time of this writing the bill’s language was not available on the Congressional website.
The bill was simultaneously assigned to both the House Judiciary and House Energy and Commerce Committees. The Congressional website describes the Committee split in this way:
Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
The current Speaker of the House is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
Rep. Lee has stated she will boycott the inauguration of newly-elected U.S. President Donald Trump.
Concerns are rampant within the American marijuana industry and patient population that President-elect Trump will emulate other Republicans and move to curtail or eliminate legal and medical marijuana use in the states where voters have approved it. His nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the post of U.S. Attorney General reinforced those concerns, as Sessions has a record of attacking marijuana use in speeches and actions.
During a recent nomination hearing, Sen. Sessions did little to reassure anyone about his position. His evasive answers to questions related to his stance on cannabis use offered no insight, and by not revealing his position Sessions fueled the anti-Trump conversation nationwide.
Rep. Lee has sponsored or co-sponsored notable bills already in the 2017 session of Congress, among them bills related to specific medical conditions. These include:
- H.R.371 – To address financial conflicts of interest of the President and Vice President.
- H.R.356 – To establish the National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election.
- H.R.326 – To amend the Public Health Service Act to create a National Neuromyelitis Optica Consortium to provide grants and coordinate research with respect to the causes of, and risk factors associated with, neuromyelitis optica, and for other purposes.
- H.R.325 – To expand and enhance existing adult day programs for younger people with neurological diseases or conditions (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, or other similar diseases or conditions) to support and improve access to respite services for family caregivers who are taking care of such people, and for other purposes.
- H.R.255 – Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
- H.R.169 – West Coast Ocean Protection Act of 2017