A bipartisan group of 13 U.S. House members on Monday introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Patients Protection Act, allowing medical marijuana patients and businesses to access and distribute cannabis without federal interference in states that have voted to legalize pot to relieve pain and suffering.
The legislation is designed to deal with a yawning gap between states’ actions — 18 states and the District of Columbia allow for medical marijuana — and the federal Controlled Substances Act, which still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
“Frankly, the people in the federal bureaucracy are in an impossible position: It gets the federal government and the Department of Justice out of this never-never land,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, chief sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.
In Oregon, Blumenauer’s home state, the U.S. Attorney in Portland along with county prosecutors sent out a blustery, threat-filled letter that warned owners of properties where medical marijuana dispensaries are located that they face severe penalties for harboring an illegal business.
With states removing penalties, and the feds continuing to arrest and prosecute, said Blumenauer, “These inconsistencies create significant challenges for both patients and businesses working to provide access to medical marijuana.”
Two states, Washington and Colorado, voted in November to legalize, regulate and tax the growing and sale of marijuana. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington met last month with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss what the federal response will be. Holder asked Inslee for specifics on how Washington will see to it that cannabis grown in the Evergreen State stays in the Evergreen State.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, is working on a separate proposal that would authorize states — at their choosing — to regulate and tax the “killer weed” that the federal government has spent billions of dollars to suppress over the last 42 years.
The States’ Medical Marijuana Patients Protection Act would direct the federal government to reschedule cannabis to a category other than Schedule 1 or 2.
It would change the Controlled Substances Act so as not to restrict individuals, physicians or businesses from “consuming, recommending, producing, distributing or otherwise operating in marijuana in compliance with state laws.”
In the wake of legalization votes in Washington and Colorado, efforts are underway in Oregon and California to make cannabis legal. Marijuana is already in wide and open use, particularly in California, and sustains the economies of counties along the Golden State’s north coast.
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, a conservative and cradle Ronald Reagan supporter, is a cosponsor of the legislation.
An estimated 150 people cheered introduction of the legislation in Washington, D.C., Politico reported.
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