Marijuana Reform Could Be Considered ‘Fairly Soon,’ Says House Judiciary Chair

The House Judiciary Committee now has a chairman who supports marijuana legalization.

The United States House Judiciary Committee could address federal marijuana reform ‘fairly soon,’ the committee’s new Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said Tuesday.

First reported by Marijuana Moment, Nadler made his comments on cannabis reform in response to a remark from committee member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) at an unrelated hearing on an election reform bill.

After congratulating Nadler on his new chairmanship, Gaetz indicated he would have rather the committee first take on cannabis policy.

“I will say I had hoped that at one of our initial meetings we would have been giving powers back to the states in the form of removing cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs rather than taking powers from the states,” Gaetz said. “I’ll also note that with some of the new additions on the Republican side, I think the committee would be very favorable” to reforming cannabis policy.

Gaetz also noted that he believed the new committee “will be more engaging and transparent and robust in the discussion than we were in the 115th Congress,” referencing the previous Republican leaders who prevented the House from voting on any cannabis-related legislation.

Nadler responded to Gaetz comments by indicating he won’t have to wait long.

“Let me just observe on your time that we may be discussing that fairly soon,” Nadler said.

House Judiciary Committee and Marijuana

Marijuana is federally illegal, classified under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug. In the face of federal prohibition, 32 states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for varying purposes. The gap between federal and state marijuana laws has placed pressure on Congress to consider reform.

The House Judiciary Committee is charged with overseeing the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement entities. The committee’s former chairman, Bob Goodlatte, had used his position to block any hearings on major marijuana legislation, including the STATES Act.

Introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the STATES Act would give states the power to completely legalize marijuana while being protected from interference from the federal government. The bill never was considered by the Republican-led committee at the time, despite having the support of Donald Trump.

As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Nadler now has the power to bring such cannabis reform bills up for a vote. In a media interview last October, Nadler came out in favor of legalizing marijuana and criticized the war on drugs.

“It’s no secret that Chairman Nadler is a supporter of comprehensive reform that would end the cruel policy of federal criminalization, having previously cosponsored legislation to do so,” Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Mr. Nadler has always been receptive to his constituents and deriving evidence-based solutions, so we are looking forward to working with him and the whole Judiciary Committee to advance legislation in this Congress.”

More on Marijuana Reform

Keep up with the latest efforts with reform marijuana policy by regularly visiting the Medical Marijuana, Inc. news page or by following us on Facebook and Twitter. Find out where cannabis laws stand now throughout the U.S. through our education page.