Did you know that the House of Representatives has passed its first standalone cannabis bill ever? The bipartisan SAFE Banking Act, legislation to reform the nonsensical banking restrictions on state-legal cannabis business, passed the House by a vote of 321-103.
That’s a big deal. The public is overwhelmingly supportive — 47 states have some form of legal cannabis, but our work isn’t done. In fact, it’s just begun.
We have much more work to do to reform our nation’s out of touch and outdated cannabis policies. It’s ridiculous that the federal government restricts access to medical cannabis that is proven to be helpful for veterans suffering from PTSD and other chronic diseases. When it comes to research, the same ludicrous restrictions are in place.
In the blueprint to legalization that I wrote last fall, I argued that almost every committee has a role to play in ending the senseless prohibition of cannabis.
This summer, I worked with Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, on a comprehensive cannabis reform package called the MORE Act.
Passing this legislation is our goal. It not only addresses the issues I outlined earlier, but it also is the first piece of federal legislation that would establish social equity programs for cannabis entrepreneurs and enact expungements of low-level federal cannabis offenses, not to mention reducing sentences for those currently serving time in federal prison for cannabis violations.
The federal government must get out of the way of the American people on cannabis, but it also has a responsibility to reverse course and attempt to empower those communities that have been disenfranchised most by the senseless federal prohibition of cannabis.
We must continue to fight for our veterans, for research, for regulation, and most importantly, for restorative justice. We are on our way!
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon whose district includes Portland, is a founding member of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska is a member of the caucus.