New Bill To Remove Marijuana From CSA: Details
Recently, Congressman Thomas Garrett introduced a legalization bill. This bold move by a Republican left many people wondering: what’s going on?
Rep. Garrett introduced the bill named “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017”, also known as House Resolution 1227. The initiative is nearly identical to the cannabis bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders in late 2015. Unlike Sen. Sanders’ bill, which received no co-sponsors, Rep. Garrett’s initiative is already backed up by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Scott Taylor, and Rep. Jared Polis (who is also a member of recently established Cannabis Caucus).
The aim of the bill is to amend the Controlled Substances Act and remove any mention of “marijuana” or “THC” from it. Rep. Garrett also wants to strike out a section that prohibits the import and export of cannabis products between states and allow to enact their own rules regarding cannabis. However, the bill says nothing about federal legalization.
Who is Rep. Garrett?
Rep. Thomas Garrett is a Republican from Virginia, a state with one of the most restrictive cannabis policies. He is a former Army veteran with an A rating from the National Rifle Organisation. Garrett has already proposed the E.N.D. Illegal Immigration Plan, which is closely aligned with recent changes in immigration policy conducted by Trump’s administration. He opposes abortions and roots for reinforcement of national security.
How comes that he supports removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act?
During his campaign, Rep. Garrett met with Virginia families whose children suffered from intractable epilepsy. He was deeply impressed how effective medical treatment with cannabis could be. His observations led him to a promise to make cannabis policy reform a priority if elected. In his words,
Cannabis needs to be off Schedule I. <…> I don’t even think we’re trotting any bold political ground here…We know that there are legitimate medical uses for marijuana; we know it.
Does He Want to Legalize?
No. Rep. Garrett clarified his stance saying that he just wants to remove federal interference and allow states to establish their own cannabis policies. He also expressed his concern with disproportionate arrest statistics as a source for the bill. Garrett said that
I have long believed justice that isn’t blind. <…> Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce.
According to him,
This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia. In the coming weeks, I anticipate introducing legislation aimed at growing the hemp industry in Virginia, something that is long overdue.
Are There Any Other Bills?
Yes. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, known for his Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which protects state-legal medical cannabis from federal prosecution, recently introduced a measure to prolong protection of cannabis patients and businesses.
House Resolution 975, known as the ‘Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017’ has garnered 14 co-sponsors from both parties, including every member of the Cannabis Caucus.
We are going to follow political developments in Congress to keep you updated.