A bipartisan collection of members of Congress and state officials are pushing back on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s move to rescind Obama-era guidance that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO):
.@SenCoryGardner on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' #marijuana policy change: "I will be holding all nominations for the Department of Justice. The people of Colorado deserve answers." pic.twitter.com/BnVEkA54ag
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 4, 2018
This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):
Attorney General Sessions' decision to restrict states’ ability to legalize and decriminalize marijuana is either willfully ignorant of the medical science or an act of greed on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. In either case, it's an attack on patients, and it's wrong. pic.twitter.com/Kiw8nOmPb7
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
This is about public health. You can join me in fighting back by calling for support for my bill, the CARERS Act, which keeps the federal government out of the way when doctors and patients decide that medical marijuana is the best treatment for them.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
DOJ should investigate how pharma helped create the opioid crisis, not institute policies that take marijuana based medicines from patients and needlessly target non-violent minority youths.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 4, 2018
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK):
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 4, 2018
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D):
Make no mistake: As we have told the Department of Justice ever since I-502 was passed in 2012, we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement. https://t.co/R3jJrncN9X pic.twitter.com/uM48hVH26q
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) January 4, 2018
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D):
— Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) January 4, 2018
Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission:
— Steve Brown (@WBURSteve) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
Attorney General Sessions, your unjust war against Americans who legally use #marijuana is shameful & insults the democratic processes that played out in states across the country.
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) January 4, 2018
Nancy Pelosi says the Justice Dept’s new marijuana policy "bulldozes over the will of the American people." pic.twitter.com/PIuRQPCFiA
— Dominic Holden (@dominicholden) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
I believe that the States should continue to be the labs of democracy when it comes to recreational & medical marijuana. Jeff, this is one place where states’ rights works. Let each state decide.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 6, 2018
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D):
Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning & disruptive to Oregon's economy. Oregon voters were clear when they chose to legalize the sale of marijuana & the fed govt shouldn't stand in the way https://t.co/3ax9EvdGGE
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) January 4, 2018
Reports that AG Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning & disruptive to Oregon's economy. Oregon voters were clear when they chose to legalize the sale of marijuana & the fed govt shouldn't stand in the way. #orpol https://t.co/BKy4hSCXas
— Kate Brown (@KateBrownForOR) January 4, 2018
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R):
.@AsaHutchinson said there needs to be a difference of views between medical and recreational marijuana when it comes to today's decision by DOJ on legalized marijuana.https://t.co/avmZkAiZWc pic.twitter.com/CZZR51P51k
— THV11 (@THV11) January 4, 2018
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I):
“I remain committed to upholding the will of Alaskans on this issue, and maintaining our State’s sovereign rights to manage our own affairs while protecting federal interests.”
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R):
— Cynthia Coffman (@CynthiaHCoffman) January 4, 2018
Congressman Denny Heck (D-WA):
Perhaps b/c the Trump Admin. was unsuccessful in repealing the ACA, they’ve thought up another way to harm cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, & other law-abiding citizens by taking away guidance for DOJ to work w/ local communities who voted to legalize marijuana. 1/4
— Denny Heck (@RepDennyHeck) January 4, 2018
Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO):
— Rep. Mike Coffman (@RepMikeCoffman) January 4, 2018
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK):
“Today’s action by the Department of Justice — which contradicts previous statements by the President that this is an issue best left to the states, and adds new confusion and uncertainty for numerous states and communities — could be the impetus necessary for Congress to find a permanent legislative solution for states that have chosen to regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana. As we move forward, I will be examining new and existing legislative proposals and working to ensure the rights of Alaskans and the State of Alaska are protected.”
Congressman Don Young (R-AK):
“Today’s decision announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is a direct violation of states’ rights. Rolling back the Cole Memo without a responsible replacement to protect individuals and the states they live in is unacceptable.”
Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL):
.@jeffsessions confirms that he has no respect for the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution and no respect for over 70 percent of Floridians who voted to legalize #MedicalMarijuana. It's time for Congress to pass meaningful legislation on this issue that honors states' rights. https://t.co/jUaUxEPF2u
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) January 4, 2018
Businesses operating in compliance with their state's laws deserve a federal government that respects the 10th Amendment. Very disappointing to see an Attorney General who supposedly respects the federalist model of our government take such a drastic step ignoring states’ rights https://t.co/n8a5EVz1Jl
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) January 4, 2018
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
No, Attorney General Sessions. Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 4, 2018
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):
Congress needs to take immediate action to protect state marijuana laws, and the patients that rely on them.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 4, 2018
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI):
There is a growing bipartisan group of Senators that is not going to stand by while Jeff Sessions takes us back several generations on marijuana policy. More later.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 5, 2018
We have an opioids epidemic. But there is no such thing as a marijuana epidemic.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA):
Dear Attorney General Jeff Sessions and @TheJusticeDept: Let me give you a list of things more important for federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement to pursue other than marijuana:
1. Basically anything. https://t.co/ctyJui7g4c
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 4, 2018
AG Jeff Sessions apparently wants to take America back to the 1920s. Prohibition didn't work then and it will not work now. Congress needs to pass sensible laws to prevent a monumental waste of precious federal resources chasing Americans who use #cannabis. #thursdaythoughts https://t.co/GP3qPyKIve
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 4, 2018
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT):
In 2013, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I held a hearing on the conflict betw. federal laws and evolving state laws on marijuana. That hg. prompted DOJ to release the Cole memo. Rescinding that memo is a terrible, facts-backwards decision by Atty Gen Sessions.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(2/4) Make no mistake, the Cole memo NEVER PREVENTED the gov from going after bad actors, like those who traffic marijuana to minors or across state lines. ONLY reason to rescind the memo is because the AG wants to target patients & businesses that are COMPLIANT with state laws.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(3/4) We need to protect the patients and dispensaries in the 46 states with medical marijuana and CBD laws. As Vice Chair of Appropriations, I offered an amdt in Committee to do just that – and it was approved with a bipartisan voice vote.
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
(4/4) I'm now fighting to include my amdt in the final omnibus Approps bill so we can protect patients and law-abiding businesses. With an AG determined to waste finite DOJ resources to prosecute even those who are compliant with state law, this amdt is more important than ever
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) January 4, 2018
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH):
As lead Democrat on DOJ funding subcommittee, I’ll work to ensure that resources are devoted to opioid response NOT foolish policy of interfering with legal marijuana production. My statement: pic.twitter.com/0w9x22ByQg
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) January 4, 2018
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
Hatch office on DOJ’s marijuana announcement: “Senator Hatch encourages the Department of Justice to remove bureaucratic red tape – not put up roadblocks – to allow our nation’s top medical researchers to study the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana.” #utpol pic.twitter.com/nmTXOkcZ6K
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN):
“This change takes us in the wrong direction and is another step by the Trump Justice Department toward rolling back the sensible and more effective prosecution policies established by the Justice Department under President Obama. The Judiciary Committee should conduct hearings on these issues so that we may develop better strategies for preventing drug abuse and focusing the Justice Department’s efforts on those who pose the most serious threats to public safety.”
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA):
Rohrabacher Blasts Attorney General’s Marijuana Policy Decision https://t.co/TeV9wmuWyj
— Dana Rohrabacher (@RepRohrabacher) January 4, 2018
I believe states, not the federal government, should determine the extent to which the use of #cannabis should be regulated, so I introduced H.R. 975, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. To read the bill, visit this link: https://t.co/kALjeM8aLS #marijuana
— Dana Rohrabacher (@RepRohrabacher) January 5, 2018
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR):
There's nothing to be gained from going back to an era when fed resources were wasted prosecuting nonviolent cannabis crimes. This will create massive uncertainty, hurt local biz & tax revenue, & harm public safety by driving cannabis activity back into the dangerous black market
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 4, 2018
Jeff Sessions is turning back the clock to the failed “war on drugs.” Instead of punishing local businesses, how about focus those resources on actual problems, like the opioid epidemic that is killing tens of millions? https://t.co/agG1X1HqS2
— Jeff Merkley (@JeffMerkley) January 5, 2018
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R):
Statement from Gov. Baker's office on the DOJ memo on marijuana: "The administration believes this is the wrong decision and will review any potential impacts from any policy changes by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office.” pic.twitter.com/Ewk9FNr1on
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) January 4, 2018
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R):
“We support states’ rights when deciding whether medical marijuana should be legalized, and North Dakota voters have spoken.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ):
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 4, 2018
Sessions' determination to revive the failed War on Drugs is fiscally wasteful, morally bankrupt, unjust—and won't make us safer. This backwards policy is wrong for America, and on the wrong side of history. https://t.co/KgoEtz3MrK
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 4, 2018
We must stop Jeff Sessions' backwards actions. There is now great urgency to pass the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana on the federal level.
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) January 4, 2018
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL):
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) January 4, 2018
I am extremely disappointed that AG Sessions is rescinding medical cannabis protections; it is a step backward for the American people. When Congress passes new spending bills, I will fight this misguided plan. Prosecute criminals, not patients!https://t.co/eklRBR5SXL
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 4, 2018
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D):
Despite backwards moves by the Trump administration, I will continue to protect cancer patients, kids with epilepsy, veterans with PTSD and all Pennsylvanians seeking relief from legal medical marijuana.
— Tom Wolf (@WolfForPA) January 4, 2018
Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA):
Because of @jeffsessions actions, I’m joining the “Respect State Marijuana Laws” bill. I believe in States' Rights & I’ve seen how cannabis derived medicines can stop seizures in a child, help a veteran cope with pain, or provide relief to a senior with glaucoma. #IA01
— Congressman Rod Blum (@RepRodBlum) January 5, 2018
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D):
In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis. Unlike others, we embrace, not fear, change. After all, this is 2018 not the 20th century. 1/ https://t.co/71auR83R4V
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) January 4, 2018
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello (NPP):
Breaking with the Trump administration, Puerto Rico's Gov. cites "lack of awareness of the scientific evidence" as reason for the Attorney Generals decision to crackdown on states where marijuana is legal. @ricardorossello will "join any legal actions that arise to defeat it." pic.twitter.com/giW5A7Gi7D
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD):
We should not be using federal law enforcement resources to lock people up for the use of marijuana. In fact, no one should be jailed for marijuana use. I strongly oppose AG Session’s decision yesterday. https://t.co/TO1aDg2utd
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 5, 2018
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV):
Nevada voters made it clear that the state should be able to enforce its marijuana laws without federal interference. We must respect the will of states while ensuring prosecutorial resources are used effectively.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) January 4, 2018
Nevada’s marijuana industry is a boon to our economy: it supports nearly 300 small businesses and currently employs more than 6,700 Nevadans. AG Sessions’ decision to ignore states’ rights will create uncertainty and could cost Nevada millions in economic revenue.
— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) January 4, 2018
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA):
Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after recreational marijuana users. That’s not being smart on crime.https://t.co/BNlcxbTT4v
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 4, 2018
Instead of wasting money on failed policies like the “War on Drugs,” the Department of Justice should be directing federal resources toward working with local law enforcement to clamp down on transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of guns and human beings.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) January 4, 2018
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA):
.@SenBobCasey says he's concerned about how Sessions' pot action could impact PA medical marijuana and says states should determine own policies, per statement. "Bureaucrats in Washington should not interfere with the medical care these patients are receiving."
— Justine McDaniel (@McDanielJustine) January 4, 2018
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR):
My full statement on AG Sessions' announcement today: pic.twitter.com/6YaHskHxIF
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 4, 2018
Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND):
“States are really determining how this issue will be handled now and going forward, and I don’t think this policy decision will change that.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA):
“It seems to be the absolute opposite direction from where our country’s headed.”
Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN):
The war on drugs didn’t stop drug usage; it just ruined a lot of lives. Jeff Sessions is reviving it because he believes in using the criminal justice system as an instrument of racial and economic control of poor people and brown people. https://t.co/XRd8OldE2N
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) January 4, 2018
Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND):
“Congress should act on this and make it clear that … this a states’ rights issue, that it should be up to states to determine whether they want to allow marijuana.”
Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV):
I will fight for businesses that are legally operating in states, contributing to tax bases, & creating jobs. We don't need a crackdown. We need to protect states' rights, respect the voice of voters, and pass laws to prevent this from happening again. https://t.co/0XBLrgf0iM
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN):
— Jason Lewis (@RepJasonLewis) January 5, 2018
Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO):
“The announcement by the Department of Justice is a drastic departure from the Attorney General’s previous commitment to Senator Cory Gardner during the confirmation process that he would uphold the Obama Administration’s treatment of marijuana enforcement and President Trump’s comments that he would leave it to the states. Furthermore it creates even greater confusion and uncertainty by leaving enforcement decisions up to federal prosecutors. The Department of Justice should provide guidance on enforcement of marijuana for states that have voted to legalize it. The people of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana in the state, and I am committed to defending the will of Coloradans.”
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D):
Jeff Sessions has destructively doubled down on the failed, costly, and racially discriminatory war on drugs, ignoring facts and logic, and trampling on the will of CA voters.
Have no doubt — CA will pursue all options to protect our reforms and rights. https://t.co/0EuSp5GJ2z
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 4, 2018
My full statement on Attorney General Jeff Sessions' harmful and destructive attempt to revive the failed war on drugs.
Calling on our federal leaders to move quickly to protect states’ rights from the harmful effects of this ideological temper tantrum by Sessions. pic.twitter.com/96xtRx6OYE
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 4, 2018
"States rights" is nothing more than a catch phrase to Jeff Sessions. CA overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana. Sick and tired of elected officials who lack the courage to stand up for those that are unjustly targeted by the failed war on drugs. The time to speak out is now. pic.twitter.com/Pnj4rsKYF9
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 7, 2018
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R):
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) January 4, 2018
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):
This is outrageous. Going against the majority of Americans—including a majority of Republican voters—who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made. https://t.co/favJUDVBiA
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 4, 2018
One wonders if Trump was consulted—it is Jeff Sessions after all—because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws. It’s time for ANYONE who cares about this issue to mobilize and push back strongly against this decision. https://t.co/S0neITlP5q
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC):
Sessions has it exactly backwards. Americans are ending the war on marijuana, not escalating it. Republicans, get on board and remove the DC marijuana rider to let DC commercialize recreational marijuana as 7 states have done. #HandsOffDC https://t.co/oXMgu2rrMF
— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA):
Jeff Sessions’ War On Drugs is a direct attack on communities of color, who bear the burden of overzealous policing & mass incarceration. This Attorney General makes a mockery of the so-called “Justice Department.”https://t.co/phJaVRD3Mr
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI):
Veterans suffering from invisible wounds like Post-Traumatic Stress and chronic pain, or with addiction to opioids, deserve our commitment to researching every possible treatment to help them, and Sessions is failing them.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 4, 2018
Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY):
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) January 5, 2018
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY):
Statement from @RandPaul on Sessions rescinding Obama-era marijuana guidance to U.S. Attorneys: "I continue to believe that this is a states’ rights issue, and the federal government has better things to focus on."
— CJ Ciaramella (@cjciaramella) January 4, 2018
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV):
— Colton Lochhead (@ColtonLochhead) January 4, 2018
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND):
“I’m going to continue to follow this situation to see how it will impact our state, especially after North Dakotans made their voices heard and voted to legalize medical marijuana.”
Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN):
Sessions will end policy that allowed legalized marijuana to prosper https://t.co/Jrx50hRwme Sessions & Trump for states rights to secede and discriminate but not to innovate and be as Justice Brandeis said,”the laboratories of democracy.”
Opioid crisis and no action.Pot?Get real
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) January 4, 2018
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D):
AG Ferguson response on reported action by US AG Jeff Sessions on federal marijuana policy. Read AG Ferguson and @GovInslee's letter to Sessions correcting Sessions' bad information on WA marijuana law here: https://t.co/z1DY0fbnsE pic.twitter.com/i68zhtHc9A
— WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) January 4, 2018
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA):
When it comes to the legal, adult use of marijuana, the voters in my home state of Washington, and in many other states, have spoken clearly and I intend to keep fighting to make sure Washington state is able to continue carrying out the will of its voters.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) January 4, 2018
Washington state has created a well-regulated system for the legal, adult use of marijuana that works for families and communities. I intend to keep fighting to make sure Washington state is able to continue carrying out the will of its voters.https://t.co/db84cwCmbP
— Senator Patty Murray (@MurrayCampaign) January 6, 2018
Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA):
Let’s be clear: Trump’s decision to prosecute marijuana use will hurt Black and Latino youth the most. Privileged kids who use these drugs in private schools rarely get prosecuted. This is a civil rights issue. It’s not only bad policy. It’s morally wrong. https://t.co/REIekeWCeY
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) January 4, 2018
We must allow states the right to move towards the decriminalization of marijuana, not turn back the clock as more states – like CA – legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. I will do all I can to stop Sessions’ backwards decision to reverse the Cole Memo. https://t.co/i9a6njpG0M
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) January 4, 2018
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO):
.@realDonaldTrump pls stop your loser Attorney General from making you look weak and undermining you by putting big swamp government in the way of our state marijuana laws
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) January 4, 2018
It is absurd that @USAGSessions has broken @POTUS’s campaign promise & is now waging war on legal #marijuana & states’ rights. I am calling on the President to overrule & protect consumers, our economy, the will of voters, & states’ rights. #ColeMemo pic.twitter.com/sQCL0yFkzv
— Rep. Jared Polis (@RepJaredPolis) January 4, 2018
Colorado has proven that a thoughtful approach to cannabis works much better than the failed federal prohibition. And as #COgov, I will fight back against attacks by Jeff Sessions & the Trump administration that undermine the work we have done here in CO. https://t.co/EWWV4Po9Oq pic.twitter.com/bjrFZ7DmQ4
— Polis for Colorado (@PolisForCO) January 4, 2018
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE):
“Devoting our limited resources to prosecuting medical marijuana use that is permitted under Delaware state law is a poor allocation of federal time, money, and manpower that should be focused on more important things, such combating violent crime on our streets.”
Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI):
Under our Constitution, marijuana shouldn’t be federally criminalized. @RepTomGarrett has a bill that will stop AG Sessions in his tracks: the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (#HR1227), which I’ve cosponsored.
Here’s a list of cosponsors: https://t.co/buRPtGh9Bm
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 5, 2018
Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX):
We're not going to let Jeff Sessions drag us backwards. His decision on marijuana is terrible policy. pic.twitter.com/LxwWwBkid4
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) January 5, 2018
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA):
As more states, including California, legalize and regulate marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational use, turning back the clock on federal enforcement is a waste of limited resources. I believe the hands-off policy should be reinstated, by Congressional action if necessary https://t.co/N2cA83k94g
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 4, 2018
With a nationwide opioid epidemic and innumerable other priorities, busting legal marijuana sellers and medicinal dispensaries is wasteful and destructive. Whatever happened to their states’ rights creed? https://t.co/gDi8RTUylZ
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiffCA) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME):
As a member of Congress, I’ve cosponsored legislation to uphold state laws regarding marijuana legalization. I hope @TheJusticeDept will reconsider its one-size-fits-all approach so that congressional action is not needed. #mepolitics https://t.co/nFCV0ih6FS
— Chellie Pingree (@chelliepingree) January 4, 2018
Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA):
“This action by Attorney General Sessions would silence the voices of the majority of Washington state’s voters. No matter how you feel about the legalization of marijuana, this decision by the federal government to meddle in a state issue settled by public referendum is particularly troubling and would create tremendous uncertainty. It’s the wrong decision and is in direct conflict with the Attorney General’s long career of advocating for more autonomy for state and local governments.”
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA):
This is the opposite of what we should be doing. Let’s not kid ourselves – people will be using marijuana regardless of what Attorney General Sessions says. We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) January 4, 2018
Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL):
— US Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) January 5, 2018
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA):
— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) January 4, 2018
Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN):
While the VA moves (slowly) in the right direction, AG Jeff Sessions is dead set on overruling states that have legalized recreational or medical cannabis, including MN. I'll keep fighting alongside the 83% of vets & caregivers who support legalizing medical cannabis nationally. https://t.co/b6LkoPvxYP
— Rep. Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY):
It makes no sense to dedicate additional fed resources toward marijuana enforcement when our nation faces an opioid epidemic & many states are taking steps toward marijuana decriminalization. Height of hypocrisy coming from party that makes ‘states rights’ a litmus test.
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 5, 2018
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY):
If Trump Administration is serious about criminal justice reform, beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions must end his war on Marijuana. NOW
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) January 11, 2018
Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D):
DC residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize small amounts of marijuana, in part because of racial disparities in drug arrests and convictions. This is a step backwards for local autonomy and smart criminal justice policy. DOJ should focus on larger public safety priorities. https://t.co/AdCX8k3nDd
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) January 4, 2018
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R):
— Nathan O'Neal (@NateNews3LV) January 4, 2018
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D):
This puts the health and safety of patients at risk. It’s inhumane and short-sighted to take this away from people who are suffering.
Trump policy change on marijuana raises questions in Maryland https://t.co/XwX1LqX6vP
— Brian Frosh (@BrianFrosh) January 4, 2018
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):
In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion. https://t.co/vSQuhlkv4D
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) January 4, 2018
Attorney General Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memorandum completely disregards the steps Colorado has taken to regulate legal #marijuana dispensaries and retail stores.
Read my letter to the Attorney General: https://t.co/qx0DvobMUi
— Michael F. Bennet (@SenBennetCO) January 5, 2018
Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA):
More than 90% of veterans support research into medical cannabis as an alternative to addictive opioids. The DOJ's announcement will discourage progress on a potentially safer way to manage veterans’ post-traumatic stress and chronic pain. https://t.co/uW5AqTdrWb
— Mark Takano (@RepMarkTakano) January 5, 2018
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):
I'm extremely disappointed in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ attempt to disregard the will of the people and return us to the days of prohibition and the war on drugs.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) January 4, 2018
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D):
“Especially during the midst of a national opioid crisis, medical marijuana provides an important alternative to opioids and is counted on for relief by 22,000 Connecticut residents. Rather than diverting critical federal resources and infringing on the will of the American people, Attorney General Sessions would do well to take a leaf out of Connecticut’s book, where our marijuana policies have allowed law enforcement professionals to focus on reducing violent crime, with demonstrated success. We will continue to follow Connecticut law regarding marijuana policy despite this short-sighted decision.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA):
— Rep. Suzan DelBene (@RepDelBene) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR):
The Department of Justice has much more important things to focus on than prosecuting licensed, legitimate businesses. Oregon voters have spoken and the federal government must respect the will of the states that have legalized the use of marijuana.https://t.co/xqptVqvTyc
— Suzanne Bonamici (@RepBonamici) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA):
The state of California has the right to enact its own policies on marijuana, and the voters have spoken. Rather than wasting taxpayer money going after medical and recreational marijuana users, Attorney General Sessions should concentrate on protecting Americans from criminals. https://t.co/pbdTw6ANYS
— Julia Brownley (@JuliaBrownley26) January 5, 2018
Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA):
The Trump Admin is rescinding a policy that has allowed states to freely operate legal marijuana markets. The people of CA have made their will clear and the Admin should help implement the policy responsibly, not subvert our democratic process. https://t.co/68haHERjI9
— Mike Thompson (@RepThompson) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-CO):
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) January 4, 2018
Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY):
The war on drugs was a costly failure that targeted communities of color and worsened mass incarceration. Attorney General Sessions has no business resurrecting the discriminatory policies of yesteryear.https://t.co/2v4l7sfdLq
— Rep. Joe Crowley (@repjoecrowley) January 4, 2018
Congressman Ryan Cosetllo (R-PA):
In 2016, PA passed a law to allow patients facing certain illnesses to legally use medical marijuana, and I believe it is critically important the Commonwealth’s law and patients who benefit from it are protected. https://t.co/y5xYFUebii
— Rep. Ryan Costello (@RepRyanCostello) January 7, 2018
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ):
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) January 4, 2018
We need to stop AG Sessions attempt to roll back the progress we have made to decriminalize marijuana. Time to legalize not criminalize.
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) January 4, 2018
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D):
— Gintautas Dumcius (@gintautasd) January 4, 2018
Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D-NV):
This is an insult to Nevada voters, an affront to states’ rights, and a threat to our local economy. Nevadans made it clear at the ballot box in 2016 that they support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes, and their decision should stand. https://t.co/lC6fsCOFWn
— Rep. Jacky Rosen (@RepJackyRosen) January 4, 2018
Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT):
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) January 4, 2018
Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA):
Attention @DanaPerino @guypbenson @lesliemarshall2 My bill, HR 1227 would deregulate marijuana policy by removing federal oversight and empowering the 50 States… It has been around for a year now. Congress is TRYING to "do something."
— Tom Garrett (@GarrettforVA) January 4, 2018
H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal #Marijuana Prohibition Act, is a #bipartisan bill that gives states the ability to formulate their own marijuana policy free from federal interference. Read more HERE → https://t.co/TUF0Q5uaCW pic.twitter.com/rO0ti8ozXy
— Tom Garrett (@RepTomGarrett) January 5, 2018
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI):
.@TheJusticeDept is signaling to prosecutors that it is open season on marijuana dispensaries and businesses operating legally in states with established policies and procedures. What a complete waste of time. @jeffsessions https://t.co/RQMhHsJYz5
— Colleen Hanabusa (@RepHanabusa) January 5, 2018
Congressman Adam Lowenthal (D-CA):
AG Sessions’ move to attack state marijuana laws is nothing short of hypocritical. @GOP supports states’ rights when it suits them, and thwarts the will of voters when it doesn’t. https://t.co/J9VFpH665G
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) January 5, 2018
Congressman John Delaney (D-MD):
“The Cole Memo provided clear guidance to an otherwise conflicting situation. Revoking the Cole Memo will restore that confusion and undermines the will of the voters in several states.”
Congressman Ruben Kihuen (D-NV):
— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@RepKihuen) January 4, 2018
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA):
The actions taken by AG Sessions to rescind existing protections for citizens complying w/lawfully enacted state laws regarding marijuana use across the country represents a flagrant disregard for the will of the majority of Americans. My full statement➡️https://t.co/18k0NsLB3u
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) January 4, 2018
Colorado Senate Democrats:
The marijuana industry supports hundreds of small businesses across our state.
Since legalization, marijuana has generated $617,767,334 in tax revenue. Instead of going to drug cartels, that money helps fund our schools and addiction treatment programs for more dangerous drugs.
— Colorado Senate Dems (@COSenDem) January 4, 2018
This post will be updated as more reactions come in.
United Nations To Vote On Marijuana Rescheduling And CBD Issues This Week, With U.S. Backing Some Reforms
A key United Nations (UN) commission will vote on a series of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations concerning international marijuana reform this week. And the U.S. is in favor of the boldest policy change.
UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has held numerous meetings on the proposals—including removing cannabis from the most restrictive global drug scheduling category under a global treaty—since WHO made its six recommendations last year. Now, after several delays, CND is finally scheduled to meet to decide on the measures on Wednesday.
Advocates are generally encouraged by the development, arguing that a vote in favor of the reforms will promote research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis. However, they say removing marijuana from its current international Schedule IV status does not go far enough and means that many member nations will continue to criminalize the plant.
Here are each of WHO’s cannabis recommendations:
1. Remove marijuana from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention.
2. Add THC and dronabinol (synthetic THC medication) to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and, if approved, delete them from Schedule II of the 1971 Convention.
3. If the second recommendation is adopted, add tetrahydrocannabinol to Schedule I of the 1961 Convention and, if approved, delete it from Schedule I of the 1971 Convention.
4. Delete “extracts and tinctures of cannabis” from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.
5. Add footnote to clarify that CBD products containing no more than 0.2 percent THC are not subject to international control.
6. Add “preparations containing dronabinol” to Schedule III of the 1961 Convention.
Last month, the U.S. government said it is backing the WHO recommendation to remove marijuana from the most restrictive global drug scheduling category—though it’s opposing separate cannabis reform proposals, including the one to clarify that CBD is not under international control.
John Walsh, director of drug policy for Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), told Marijuana Moment that this upcoming vote is “momentous,” especially as “this is the first time that the UN scientific bodies has assessed placing cannabis and drug control schedules.”
‘And it’s extremely significant that the United States is supporting a recommendation to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, which strongly discourages medical uses of cannabis, even if it doesn’t outright prohibit it,” he said.
Of principal concern to advocates is that while marijuana would be removed from Schedule IV under the 1961 Single Convention—the most strict international category—it would maintain its status as a Schedule I controlled substance if the panel accepts the recommendation. (The international scheduling system differs from that of the U.S. in that the country’s most restrictive category is Schedule I.)
But despite supporting that recommendation, the U.S. circulated a proposed joint statement to other member states that claims consensus on the notion “that cannabis is properly subject to the full scope of international controls of the 1961 Single Convention, due in particular to the high rates of public health problems arising from cannabis use and the global extent of such problems, as identified in the critical review by WHO.”
It also stipulates that “no Party shall be precluded from adopting measures of control more strict or severe than those required as a result of this decision, if such measures in its opinion are necessary or desirable for the protection of the public health or welfare.” The language seems to attempt to leave room for countries to continue enforcing more restrictive cannabis policies regardless of international rules.
In an email obtained by Marijuana Moment, a State Department official said that the U.S. “believes, to demonstrate unity, every CND member and observer could ideally join the statement below, regardless of how their government will vote.” They also plan to proceed with filing the statement even if no other member states join them.
The statement represents a “disconnect” from the country’s planned vote in favor of removing marijuana from the international body’s most restrictive drug classification, Walsh said.
“Civil society had called for, and welcomed, this long overdue review process—but many have been critical of some of the recommendations,” drug policy reform advocates said in a media advisory. “While recommendations on medical cannabis and CBD are certainly positive steps, profound concerns have been raised around leaving cannabis in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.”
“This recommendation is at odds with The Who Expert Committee on Drug Dependence’s clear finding that cannabis was less harmful than other drugs included in that schedule (heroin and cocaine),” the advisory, prepared by advocacy groups Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Transnational Institute, International Drug Policy Consortium and WOLA, said.
“Regardless of the outcome of the votes on 2 December, this historic review process has demonstrably failed to implement a much-needed modernization of an outdated and malfunctioning system, and to resolve key scientific, political, institutional and human rights challenges related to cannabis and its status in the international drugs control system,” they said.
Numerous health and drug policy reform groups have advocated for the more modest changes WHO proposed.
A coalition of drug policy groups told member nations in a sign-on statement that patients worldwide are “counting on you to seize the opportunity offered by WHO to update the treaties, doing all you can to ensure access to all useful medicines. Including cannabis medicines.”
“Adopting WHO’s recommendations would lead to better medications being developed and more tools for doctors to alleviate suffering while simultaneously reinforcing the UN’s relevance,” they said.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies also weighed in in favor of the recommendations.
While the WHO’s CBD recommendation would simply offer clarification that cannabidiol products containing no more than 0.2 percent THC isn’t a controlled substance under international treaties, the U.S. came down against that and several other cannabis-related proposals.
It should be noted that none of WHO’s recommendations would promote the legalization of cannabis in any country, but advocates nonetheless seem that as a step forward from the status quo.
“This is super, super meaningful. But I don’t want to overstate it,” Michael Krawitz, a U.S. Air Force veteran and legalization advocate who has spent years working to reform international drug treaties, told Marijuana Moment. “I’ve been cautioning really hard to member states to not fall into this trap that the opposition fell into on [on California’s 1996 medical cannabis initiative] of overstating what this does in an effort to try to stop it—and then vicariously creating expectations in people’s minds that this actually does much more than it does.”
But the U.S.’s expected support for the proposal to remove marijuana from Schedule IV represents a departure from its position as articulated in a government document that Marijuana Moment obtained earlier this year. The document stated that it’s “possible that civil society, the media, and the general public will view deleting cannabis from Schedule IV as a first step toward widespread legalization of marijuana use, especially without proper messaging.”
Meanwhile, if the recommendation on CBD is adopted, it could potentially have far-reaching implications in the U.S. In 2018, the FDA determined that CBD does not meet the criteria for federal control—except for the fact that international treaties to which the U.S. is party could potentially be construed as requiring it.
The U.S. does intend to back the fourth WHO recommendation on deleting cannabis extracts and tinctures from Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, according to advocates familiar with the delegation’s thinking.
FDA has on several occasions solicited public input to shape the government’s position on the international scheduling of marijuana and cannabinoids. The agency initially requested feedback on the proposal in March 2019 and then reopened that comment period five months later.
Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem.
House Leaders Propose Changes To Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill Up For Floor Vote This Week
A key House committee has scheduled a Wednesday hearing to advance a bill to federally legalize marijuana toward a full floor vote, which could then happen as soon as Thursday. Meanwhile, leaders in the chamber are proposing an amendment that would make several changes to the cannabis legislation.
Among the most significant revisions would be to the tax-related provisions of the bill.
The Rules Committee’s move to take up the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act follows Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announcement that the chamber would be holding a floor vote on the bill before the end of the year.
The Committee on Rules will meet Wednesday, December 2 at 1:00 PM via Cisco Webex on the following measure:
H.R. 3884 — Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (MORE Act of 2020) pic.twitter.com/jlNrCLj0K9
— House Committee on Rules (@RulesDemocrats) November 30, 2020
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the lead sponsor of the bill, transmitted it to Rules with the series of modifications—many of them technical in nature. But beyond the tax changes, the newly proposed language also reaffirms the regulatory authority of certain federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and clarifies that cannabis can still be included in drug testing programs for federal workers.
Other members of the House are likely to file proposed amendments as well, though the Democratic majority of the Rules panel will determine which ones can be made in order for floor votes later this week.
As originally drafted, the legislation would have imposed a five percent tax on marijuana products, revenue from which would be used in part to fund a grant program to support communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. In Nadler’s amendment, that language is being removed and replaced with text that more closely reflects a separate descheduling bill, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act.
The modified tax provisions of the MORE Act would make it so cannabis would be federally taxed at five percent for the first two years after implementation and then increased by one percent each year until reaching eight percent. After five years, taxes would be applied to marijuana products based on weight rather than price.
At its core, the MORE Act would federally deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions. The descheduling provisions would be retroactive.
The bill 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 denying public benefits or security clearances due to its use.
A new Cannabis Justice Office under the Justice Department would be responsible for distributing funds providing loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The bill also seeks to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry.
While the bill still calls for the establishment of a Community Reinvestment Grant Program, the new leadership amendment would remove a line calling for it to specifically fund “services to address any collateral consequences that individuals or communities face as a result of the War on Drugs.”
Tax dollars appropriated to that program would instead more generally go to job training, legal aid for criminal and civil cases such as those concerning marijuana-related expungements, literacy programs and youth recreation and mentoring services, among other programs.
The definition of people impacted by the drug war who could be eligible for aid is also being changed to narrow the scope. At first it included those who have “been arrested for or convicted of the sale, possession, use, manufacture, or cultivation of cannabis or a controlled substance,” but now it only extends to marijuana and not other illicit drugs.
Other changes included in Nadler’s latest revision include one requiring FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to hold public meetings on “regulation, safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling, and sale of products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds” within one year of the bill’s enactment.
The language is also being updated to reflect the current number of states where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes, clarify that FDA and HHS maintain their authorities to regulate cannabis products and stipulate that federal agencies can continue to include cannabis in employee drug testing. A conforming amendment would clarify that the U.S. Department of Transportation could continue to require drug testing for workers in safety sensitive positions.
The revised version also stipulates that funding can be made available to “connect patients with substance use disorder services” and apply to “individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of the sale, possession, use, manufacture, or cultivation of a controlled substance other than cannabis (except for a conviction involving distribution to a minor).”
The proposal also deletes from the definition of substance misuse treatment language stating that it would be an “evidence-based, professionally directed, deliberate, and planned regimen including evaluation, observation, medical monitoring, harm reduction, and rehabilitative services and interventions such as pharmacotherapy, mental health services, and individual and group counseling, on an inpatient or outpatient basis, to help patients with substance use disorder reach remission and maintain recovery.”
There are also a number of technical and conforming changes in the proposal, as well as the removal of the word “most” from “individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs” when it comes to determining eligibility for the new programs and services created by the legislation.
In a new report on the bill that was submitted by the Democratic majority in Judiciary, members said cannabis enforcement “has been a key driver of mass criminalization in the United States” and the “drug war has produced profoundly unequal outcomes across racial groups, manifested through significant racial disparities throughout the criminal justice system.”
“The higher arrest and incarceration rates for communities of color do not reflect a greater prevalence of drug use, but rather the focus on law enforcement on urban areas, lower income communities, and communities of color,” they wrote.
Further, the “collateral consequences of even an arrest for marijuana possession can be devastating, especially if a felony conviction results.”
“Those arrested can be saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, maintain a professional license, secure housing, secure government assistance, or even adopt a child,” the report states. “These exclusions create an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans. Like drug war enforcement itself, these consequences fall disproportionately on people of color. For non-citizens, a conviction can trigger deportation, sometimes with almost no possibility of discretionary relief.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), GOP ranking member on the panel, wrote the minority opinion in the report.
He argued that the MORE Act “disregards established science” and “would open the floodgates to marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale within the United States—allowing bad actors and transnational criminal organizations to further exploit America’s addiction crisis.”
The congressman complained that the legislation—which he called “an extreme and unwise measure”—wouldn’t impose limits on THC concentration or ban flavored cannabis products, and he said it “fails to funnel any tax revenue towards a public awareness campaign to discourage teen use of marijuana, modeled on successful anti-tobacco campaigns.”
He also claimed it “does nothing to help the Federal government and scientific community to understand the effects of marijuana usage.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the lead sponsor of the Senate companion version of the MORE Act.
One provision of the bill requires that any uses of the words “marijuana” or “marihuana” in U.S. Code or regulations be replaced with the term “cannabis”—despite the fact that the legislation has “marijuana” in its own title.
The Congressional Research Service released an analysis of the MORE Act last week, finding that the bill’s passage could “reverse” the current cannabis policy gap that exists between states and the federal government.
That’s because the bill does not require states to stop criminalizing cannabis, and so jurisdictions with prohibition still on the books could continue to punish people over marijuana even as such activity is legalized at the federal level.
Even if the legislation does pass in the Democratic-controlled chamber, as it’s expected to with some bipartisan support, it remains unlikely that the Senate will follow suit. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a champion of the hemp industry but staunchly opposes further marijuana reform.
That said, a symbolic vote for legalization could send a strong signal to the incoming Biden administration.
Given Biden’s former approach to championing punitive anti-drug legislation as a senator and his ongoing obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time when polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor the policy change, there remains some skepticism about his willingness to make good on his campaign promises to achieve more modest reforms he has endorsed, such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records.
A transition document the incoming Biden-Harris administration released this month left out mention of those cannabis pledges.
That said, the president-elect has conceded that his work on punitive anti-drug legislation during his time in Congress was a “mistake.”
For his part, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.
USDA Expands Hemp Crop Insurance Program For Farmers In More States
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it is expanding and improving a crop insurance program for hemp farmers.
The Multi-Peril Crop Insurance is one of several coverage programs for which hemp qualifies. Under the new expansion, farmers in certain counties of the additional states of Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Texas will be eligible, as will those in new counties of states already included in the program, such as Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee and Virginia.
Broker contracts for hemp grain will also be allowed for the first time, and reporting and billing dates will be adjusted to match those for similar crops.
.@USDA today announced it is expanding the pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance plan for #hemp. The expansion, as well as other improvements to the plan, will begin in the 2021 crop year. https://t.co/gwlOFJolUh #cropinsurance pic.twitter.com/FkR09NBmjP
— Risk Management Agency (@usdaRMA) November 30, 2020
“We are pleased to expand the hemp program and make other improvements for hemp producers,” USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre said in a press release. “Hemp offers exciting economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers, and we are listening and responding to their risk management needs.”
Crop insurance policies are one of many areas USDA has acted in following hemp’s legalization through the 2018 Farm Bill.
The department has approved nearly 70 state and tribal regulatory hemp proposals and recently awarded an advocacy group $200,000 to support America’s international hemp trade.
Last month USDA closed an extended public comment period on its proposed hemp regulations after temporarily reopening the feedback period due to strong pushback from stakeholders, many of whom said the policies were too restrictive. An initial comment round saw more than 4,600 submissions.
Due to the concerns, Congress approved a continuing resolution that extends a current hemp pilot program established in 2014 through September 2021. That program, which many in the industry feel is more flexible than USDA’s proposed rules, was initially set to expire in October.
The department announced last month that it is planning to distribute a national survey to gain insights from thousands of hemp businesses that could inform its approach to regulating the industry.
Also last month, USDA issued and then rescinded guidance on providing federal loans for hemp processors.
Several members of Congress sent a letter to USDA and other federal agencies this month, telling them to better coordinate their hemp policies.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, hemp industry associations pushed for farmers to be able to access to certain COVID-19 relief loans—a request that Congress granted in the most recent round of coronavirus legislation.
While USDA previously said that hemp farmers are specifically ineligible for its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, that decision was reversed. While the department initially said it would not even reevaluate the crop’s eligibility based on new evidence, it removed that language shortly after Marijuana Moment reported on the exclusion.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.