Connect with us

Politics

Top Democratic Senator Files Bill To Reschedule And Research Marijuana

Published

on

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second highest ranking Democratic senator, introduced a bill on Wednesday aimed at lifting barriers to research into marijuana.

The legislation would not federally deschedule cannabis but would instead move it from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also assign research objectives to several federal health and science agencies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would be tasked with creating a cannabis agenda that lays out top research priorities. That would include studies looking into health conditions that marijuana is most likely to treat and the “long-term effects of cannabis use, including dose-response relationship and the connection between cannabis use and behavioral health.”

Additionally, the bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to build a public data collection consisting of survey information and public medical records to help the government learn about health outcomes related to cannabis and various marijuana products that people use.

Durbin, who serves as minority whip, said that the existing regulations around studying cannabis, a tightly restricted substance under its current federal classification, have hampered research efforts into the plant’s potential risks and benefits.

Beyond rescheduling marijuana, his proposal would also create an NIH research “Centers of Excellence” designation that would allow qualified universities to conduct research into cannabis for 5-10 year periods after receiving just one inspection and approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As it stands, DEA must grant approvals for each study and researcher involved in the work.

Universities that receive the NIH designation would also be able to cultivate their own cannabis for research purposes, as opposed to relying on marijuana of questionable quality from what is currently the only federally authorized cannabis manufacturer at the University of Mississippi.

“With some form of legalization on the books in over 30 states and now Illinois, I want to lift federal restrictions so we can conduct additional medical research on marijuana,” Durbin said in a press release. “We need a better understanding of promising uses of cannabis for treatment, as well as how marijuana use impacts public safety and specific populations—including children, pregnant women, and drivers.”

Reform advocates said the legislation is commonsense and would address a main collateral consequences of prohibition but argued that given Durbin’s position as a representative of a state that recently legalized cannabis, the senator should be pushing for more comprehensive reform that would also resolve the research issue.

“While more research is important, the congressional debate has shifted so much that senators from all states—especially legal states—should be thinking bigger and looking at” broader bills that Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have proposed, Michael Collins, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment.

“Their bills would enable more research, but would also end federal prohibition and give back to communities impacted by the war on drugs,” he said. “In 2019, this is what reform looks like.”

Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, said he hopes the legislation is “the first step of many that the senator will take to be reflective of the will of Illinois voters.”

“While this bill would represent just one small step for federal policy, its mere introduction is one giant leap for Senator Durbin,” he said.

Just two months ago, Durbin called his state’s medical cannabis program “almost a laughing matter,” much to the chagrin of reform advocates, while also criticizing the federal drug scheduling system. The following month, he signed onto a bipartisan CBD research bill as an original cosponsor. Now, with this new piece of legislation, he no longer seems interested in laughing about the medical potential of cannabis.

Durbin’s new proposal has been endorsed by the Illinois State Medical Society, Epilepsy Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Parkinson’s Foundation, Michael J. Fox Foundation, American Public Health Association and Chicago Medical Society.

Read Durbin’s full marijuana research and rescheduling bill below:

Durbin marijuana research bill by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Federal Court Orders DEA To Explain Marijuana Research Block

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Politics

Key Congressional Committee Officially Schedules Vote On Marijuana Legalization Bill

Published

on

A key House committee has officially announced that a vote on a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill is scheduled for this week.

The House Judiciary Committee said on Monday that the panel will mark up legislation introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), which would federally deschedule cannabis and address social equity, on Wednesday at 10:00 AM ET. The announcement confirms what sources familiar with the planned development told Marijuana Moment last week.

Nadler’s Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act has been lauded by advocates for its emphasis on restorative justice for communities most impacted by the drug war.

It calls for a five percent federal tax on marijuana sales, and that revenue would be used to fund programs such as job training, legal aid for those affected by prohibition and small business loans for individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The bill also seeks to lift barriers to licensing and employment in the industry.

Additionally, the legislation would expunge the records of those with prior cannabis convictions, provide for resentencing, block federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances as a result of marijuana use and protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis.

“A supermajority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, support regulating the use of marijuana by responsible adults,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a press release. “Thanks to the leadership of the House Judiciary chairman, never in history have we been closer to ending the failed policy of marijuana criminalization and providing pathways to opportunity for our brothers and sisters who have suffered under its oppressive reign.”

“The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana policy reform bill ever introduced in Congress and is backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups. Those who oppose this legislation moving forward are defenders of a failed status-quo that ruins the lives of otherwise law-abiding adults on a daily basis, overwhelming enforced against the poor and communities of color.”

Text of an amendment in the nature of a substitute from Nadler that Judiciary members will take up was also released on Monday. It includes a new “findings” section that discusses racial disparities in marijuana enforcement, the growing state-level legalization movement and the challenges that individuals from disadvantaged communities face in participating in the market.

“The communities that have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition are benefiting the least from the legal marijuana marketplace,” one provision reads. “A legacy of racial and ethnic injustices, compounded by the disproportionate collateral consequences of 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement, now limits participation in the industry.

Much of the language of the new section is borrowed from a resolution that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, introduced last year.

“The data speaks for itself—low-income communities and communities of color have disproportionately borne the brunt of the devastation brought on by marijuana prohibition,” Queen Adesuyi, policy manager of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release. “The MORE Act is the most robust bipartisan legislation so far not only to end federal marijuana prohibition, but also to ensure that the communities that have been hardest hit by prohibition are not left behind.”

“It would be a tragic mistake to have the only marijuana reform bill that passes this Congress be one that solely benefits the industry, despite both the unprecedented support for legalization nationally amongst Americans and all the harm that we know federal prohibition has caused to individuals and communities across this country,” she said. “Fortunately, by ensuring the MORE Act moves forward, several leaders in the House are showing that they understand that this is a matter of fundamental justice that the US Congress needs to address.”

Advocates have been eagerly awaiting a committee vote on the MORE Act, especially since the House overwhelmingly passed a bill to protect banks that service the cannabis industry in September. Some groups, including the ACLU, had implored leadership to delay the banking vote until the chamber passed legislation like the MORE Act that addresses social equity.

Committee members on both sides of the aisle will be able to introduce amendments to the legislation, but it’s generally expected to advance out of the panel and onto the floor. That said, its fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is far from certain.

Read the full text of the new amendment to the MORE Act below: 

MORE Act by Marijuana Moment on Scribd

Biden Says Marijuana Might Be A Gateway Drug

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading

Politics

Biden Says Marijuana Might Be A Gateway Drug

Published

on

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) said on Saturday that he’s not sure if marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to the use of other, more dangerous substances.

“The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug,” the 2020 presidential candidate claimed at a town hall meeting in Las Vegas. “It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading

Politics

Vote To Federally Legalize Marijuana Planned In Congress

Published

on

A key congressional committee plans to hold a historic vote on a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana next week, two sources with knowledge of the soon-to-be-announced action said.

The legislation, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and set aside funding to begin repairing the damage of the war on drugs, which has been disproportionately waged against communities of color.

Please visit Forbes to read the rest of this piece.

(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)

Image element courtesy of Tim Evanson.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Stay Up To The Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!