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State Marijuana Regulators Outline Policy Priorities As Congress Pursues Legalization

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A coalition of state marijuana regulators sent a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday, outlining cannabis policy priorities and offering assistance as lawmakers consider a number of reform proposals that are set to advance this session.

The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) had made clear that it isn’t necessarily taking a position in favor of or against legalization, but it said in the letter that it stands by to “provide policy makers and regulatory agencies with the resources to make informed decisions when considering approaches to cannabis regulation.”

To that end, the group wanted to articulate “important areas of cannabis policy we believe warrant additional consideration from federal officials.”

That includes issues related to protecting states that have legalized marijuana in some form, providing banking access to state-legal cannabis businesses, promoting research into marijuana, ensuring social and economic equity in legal markets and supporting public health initiatives.

For example, CANNRA said Congress should consider reinstituting Obama-era Justice Department guidance that generally called for prosecutors to avoid interfering with the implementation of state marijuana laws. Or lawmakers could look to protections included as part of appropriations legislations that broadly protects state cannabis programs.

The letter further states that marijuana banking protections would make “the entire cannabis industry more accessible, more transparent, and safer.”

CANNRA added that ensuring quality control standards for marijuana products “should be aligned as much as possible across jurisdictions to effectively protect consumers,” as should laboratory testing requirements.

“The purpose of this letter is to introduce our association as a resource, so that interested members of Congress may benefit from the regulatory and implementation experiences of our members and the states they represent, and to provide a regulatory perspective on federal cannabis legislation,” it said.

“CANNRA commends the 117th Congress for the many pieces of cannabis legislation members have sponsored and their willingness to address much needed action to modernize federal cannabis policy. Many of these reforms would significantly aid jurisdictions that choose to legalize and responsibly regulate approved forms of cannabis. CANNRA supports changes to federal law that would strengthen oversight and increase regulatory certainty.”

Regulators from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Washington, D.C. are part of the association. Most recently, California joined as well.

“CANNRA was established to be a forum for regulators across the country to share their experiences and best practices,” Tamara Colson, acting head of the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is the latest state body to join CANNRA, said in a press release. “I look forward to this opportunity to further California’s collaboration with regulators from across the country.”

CANNRA, which was established late last year, said in December that it would be creating 15 special committees that will be tasked with collecting information and creating policy recommendations on a variety of issues related to marijuana.

The regulators’ letter comes in the backdrop of a concerted effort to advance federal cannabis legalization in 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) released a joint statement announcing a plan to legalize earlier this month that decried the failures of marijuana criminalization and called for a federal policy change that prioritizes repairing the harms of prohibition.

They then held a meeting with marijuana stakeholders as one of the first formal step toward crafting a new reform bill.

Read the letter from CANNRA on congressional marijuana reform below: 

CANNRA letter to Congress by Marijuana Moment

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Approved In First Committee Vote

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