Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) has actively contributed to the effort to reform federal cannabis policy throughout his six-plus years as a member of the U.S. House. In 2013, early in his tenure, Swalwell co-sponsored several bills aimed at ending prohibition and allowing states to pass their own cannabis policies without federal interference. Among the many cannabis reform bills he has backed is the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list so that states could regulate marijuana as they choose, and the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, aimed at removing cannabis as a Schedule I substance and encouraging more research into its potential therapeutic properties.
A former prosecutor, Swalwell has said in the past that he acknowledges the effort to curtail substance use, but believes enforcement agencies should devote resources on more serious matters. In 2014, he joined several colleagues in the House in a letter directed to Barack Obama, urging that he instruct his attorney general to either delist or reclassify marijuana because of the “lives and resourced [that] are wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws.” In 2016, Swalwell signed onto to several letters to Obama, encouraging him to push for the rescheduling of marijuana and to remove barriers to medical marijuana research. Later, he called on leaders in the House to back protections for states with legal medical marijuana.
In a CNN Town Hall in June 2019, Swalwell called for the ending of private prisons, decriminalizing marijuana and expunging marijuana convictions.
Nearly every time when given the chance, Swalwell has voted in favor of pro-cannabis amendments. He voted ‘yes’ on measures protecting states with legalized medical marijuana, as well as for a wider proposal protecting both medical and recreational marijuana states. He also voted in favor of amendments to legalize hemp, protect banks that work with marijuana businesses, and legally allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis. One time in 2016, he was absent from a House floor vote on the same amendment to give veterans access to medical cannabis that he had voted ‘yes’ for the year prior.