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Congressional Progressive Caucus Says Democrats Can Legalize Marijuana If They Win House And Senate Majorities In November Election



The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has unveiled a new legislative agenda that includes marijuana legalization and expungements among a list of priorities that members say Democrats “can pass with congressional majorities” if they keep the Senate and retake the House in the November elections.

The Progressive Proposition Agenda that was endorsed by the caucus covers a wide range of domestic policy issues that CPC’s chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), says are designed to “motivate people with a vision of progressive governance under Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democratic White House.”

Under a criminal justice section, the caucus is reiterating its call for federal cannabis legalization. It comes in stark contrast to a recent Republican Policy Committee memo urging GOP members to oppose even incremental reform proposals such as a bipartisan marijuana banking bill.

The progressive agenda specifically encourages legislative and administrative action to “reduce criminalization and incarceration through sentencing reform, legalizing cannabis, expunging records, providing restorative justice, and an accelerated and reformed clemency process for people with marijuana-related convictions.”

“Progressives are proud to have been part of the most significant Democratic legislative accomplishments of this century,” Jayapal said in a press release on Thursday. “We have made real progress for everyday Americans—but there’s much more work to be done.”

“With the Progressive Proposition Agenda, Democrats in Congress can meet the urgent needs people are facing, rewrite the rules to ensure majorities of this country are no longer barred from the American promise of equality, justice, and economic opportunity, and motivate people with a vision of progressive governance under Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and a Democratic White House,” she said.

The cannabis reform proposals are among the items CPC says “Democrats can pass with congressional majorities that will deliver immediate, tangible results for everyday Americans as well as rebuild systems that have held communities back for too long.”

In contrast, the Republican Policy Committee set out a demonstrably different agenda in a recent memo that formally opposes marijuana banking legislation and a separate bill to remove past cannabis use as a disqualifying factor for federal employment and security clearances, while broadly criticizing the substance as a “gateway drug” that causes “violence, depression and suicide.”

Meanwhile, a separate Executive Action Agenda that CPC put forward last year urged President Joe Biden to direct federal agencies to “expedite” the ongoing marijuana scheduling review and reinstate guidance protecting state cannabis programs from federal interference.

That preceded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) disclosing their recommendation to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is now completing its own review before making a final decision.

When CPC rolled out its platform in 2020, it called for marijuana to be legalized within the first six months of 2021 and the expungement of prior records.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

With respect to cannabis clemency, a Democratic senator introduced a bill on Thursday to create federal incentives for states, localities and Indian tribes that expunge low-level marijuana records—an equity-focused reform proposal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has repeatedly discussed attaching to bipartisan cannabis banking legislation that’s pending floor action.

Friday was also the deadline for senators to sign on to a bill to federally legalize marijuana that Schumer plans to introduce, alongside Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), later this month.

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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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