A leading Democratic congressman has issued a memo to the party’s leadership, encouraging them to drive the effort for federal marijuana reform in 2019.
In the memo released last week, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a long supporter of cannabis legalization, outlined a step-by-step process for how the 116th Congress can end federal prohibition before the end of next year, provided the Democrats take control of the House.
After noting that polling shows that support for the legalization of marijuana among American voters is at an all-time high, Blumenauer urged his party’s leadership to immediately move on federal legislation following the midterms.
“Congress is out of step with the American people and the states on cannabis,” Blumenauer writes. “We have an opportunity to correct course if Democrats win big in November. There’s no question: cannabis prohibition will end. Democrats should lead the way.”
During the 115th Congress, House Republican leaders have blocked floor votes on dozens of cannabis amendments. According to Marijuana Moment, not a single marijuana measure has advanced to a vote before the full body over the past two years.
Blumenauer’s “Blueprint to Legalize Marijuana”
In what he calls a “Blueprint to Legalize Marijuana,” Blumenauer provides a relatively detailed timeline of how a Democratic Majority House could “achieve these desperately-needed [cannabis] reforms” next year.
Between January and March 2019, Blumenauer calls for House committee hearings. He provides nine examples of hearings that should be scheduled, including a House Judiciary Committee hearing on descheduling marijuana, a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on expanding medical cannabis access to veterans, and a House Energy and Commerce hearing on marijuana research.
“Almost every standing House committee has jurisdiction over some aspect of marijuana policy,” the Oregon congressman writes in the memo. “Within the first six months of the new Congress, these committees should hold hearings, bring in experts, and discuss potential policy fixes.”
Between April and June 2019, Blumenauer says that committees should begin crafting bills in their jurisdiction to “narrow the marijuana policy gap” between federal and state cannabis laws.
By August 2019, the House would pass a package of marijuana reform bills, which would lead the way for a “full descheduling bill” that the Democrats would work with allies in the Senate between September and the end of the year to get approved by Congress.
Donald Trump has suggested he would support reform that allows states to make their own cannabis policies.
By the end of 2019, Blumenauer envisions, “Marijuana will be legal at the federal level, and states allowed to responsibly regulate its use. The federal government will not interfere with states efforts to responsibly regulate marijuana use within their borders.”
“This movement is cresting,” Blumenauer concludes. “Over the last decade, I’ve worked to build understanding and consensus on the need for reform. We’ve organized a bipartisan coalition in Congress to support our efforts. The public is demanding action.”
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