The next head of the House Rules Committee added his name to a bill that would federally deschedule marijuana and punish states with discriminatory cannabis enforcement on Thursday.
The co-sponsorship of the Marijuana Justice Act by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the incoming chairman of the powerful committee, stands in stark contrast to his predecessor’s adamant opposition to cannabis reform legislation. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the outgoing Rules chair, consistently blocked votes on marijuana-related bills.
McGovern has already gone on the record committing to allow cannabis measures to reach the House floor, saying he’s “not going to block marijuana amendments like my predecessor has done.”
“People ought to bring them to the floor, they should be debated and people ought to vote the way they feel appropriate,” he said.
One area the congressman said lawmakers “ought to fix” are policies that prevent military veterans from receiving medical marijuana recommendations from doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
With McGovern signing on to the Marijuana Justice Act, the total number of co-sponsors for the bill has reached 43. The legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to entirely remove cannabis from the list of federally banned substances. It would also withhold federal funds from states that disproportionately arrest or incarcerate low-income people or minorities for cannabis offenses.
Any funds that are withheld under the bill would be allocated to a community reinvestment fund, which would “be available to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a grant program to reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs.”
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.