A congressional committee will debate two bills to federally legalize marijuana and several other pieces of cannabis research legislation next week, according to a briefing memo obtained by Marijuana Moment on Friday.
A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on various reform proposals on Wednesday, with witnesses from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) set to testify.
This comes months after the House Judiciary Committee held a historic vote approving a comprehensive legalization bill sponsored by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). That legislation—the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act—will be one of two descheduling bills the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will take up.
The memo starts by providing context on the state of cannabis policy in the U.S., outlining research restrictions imposed under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the legalization of industrial hemp, past petitions to reschedule cannabis and public health issues.
DEA Senior Policy Advisor Matthew Strait, FDA Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs Douglas Throckmorton and NIDA Director Nora Volkow are listed as witnesses for the hearing.
Here are the bills that the committee will consider next week:
Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act
The MORE Act would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions and impose a five percent tax on sales, revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most impacted by the drug war.
It would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from blocking public benefits or security clearances due to its use.
Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act
This bill, sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), would federally deschedule marijuana, set aside funding for minority and women-owned cannabis businesses and provide grants to help people expunge prior marijuana convictions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the lead sponsor of a companion Senate bill.
Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019
The Medical Cannabis Research Act, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), would require the Justice Department to approve additional manufacturers of research-grade marijuana, protect research institutions interested in conducting studies on cannabis and authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to inform patients about federally approved cannabis studies that they can participate in.
Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019
A bipartisan group of House members, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), introduced the bill last year. It would simplify the registration process for researchers interested in studying cannabis and allow certified scientists to obtain research-grade cannabis from private manufacturers.
Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act
This legislation, from Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the CSA and clarify that the federal government cannot “prohibit or otherwise restrict” state-legal use, possession, transportation, production and distribution of medical cannabis.
Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is the sponsor of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, a bill that would make it legal under federal law for military veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana” in state-legal systems. It would also allow Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients.
Read the full briefing memo on the House marijuana hearing below:
Image element courtesy of Tim Evanson.