Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced a bill on Thursday that would reschedule marijuana and clarify that the federal government cannot “prohibit or otherwise restrict” state-legal use, possession, transportation, production and distribution of medical cannabis.
It is at least the second marijuana bill already filed in the new Congress, which began the same day.
While the full text of Griffith’s legislation is not currently available, the short title—”To provide for the legitimate use of medicinal marihuana in accordance with the laws of the various States”—is the same as a bill he’s previously introduced for the past three Congresses.
Griffith has touted cannabis as a viable alternative to some prescription medications and stressed the need to provide patients with legal alternative treatment options.
“Isn’t it cruel to not allow real doctors, real drug companies, and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients?” the congressman said in a press release when he introduced the bill—the Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (LUMMA)— in 2014. “We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.”
“The Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act would merely allow health care professionals and patients to have another legal tool to use.”
The bill as previously written would also reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, from Schedule I to Schedule II.
While the congressman is strongly supportive of medical cannabis reform, he’s voiced opposition to recreational legalization and even decriminalization, saying he worries that “we’e going to send the wrong message that this stuff is safe and the federal government has approved it as being safe and reasonable product to use.”
This is one of at least two cannabis bills that were introduced on the first day of the 116th Congress. Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) also revived legislation they previously sponsored—a bill that would similarly permit states to implement medical cannabis programs without federal intervention.
The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would also allow physicians with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend cannabis to veterans. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is expected to introduce a companion bill soon.