Rep. Earl Blumenauer introduced H.R. 420 on Jan. 9, which would finally remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances List. Cannabis remains classified federally alongside heroin and LSD, despite being legal in one form or another at least 33 states, and reconciliation is desperately needed between state and federal law.
“We’ve needlessly incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders for long periods of time, in some cases for things that most Americans think should no longer be illegal,” Blumenauer told CULTURE last May. “[The ‘War on Drugs’] really does have a devastating effect on individuals, on neighborhoods and criminalizing behaviors on otherwise law-abiding citizens.”
Also known as the “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act,” the bill would designate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be in charge of regulating cannabis. According to NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, the bill would remove all power of enforcement over cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Agency and transfer it to other regulatory bodies.
“While the bill number may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the issue is very serious,” Blumenauer told Willamette Weekly. “Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives. Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.”
Congress can’t continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support, which is why I introduced H.R. 420, the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act. #CommonSenseCannabis
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) January 10, 2019
Blumenauer is founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which was thought of to be a rare bipartisan moment that crossed political parties. Also on Jan. 9, Marijuana Moment reported that new co-chairs were announced including Reps. Barbara Lee, Dave Joyce and Don Young. The bill now has 26 total cosponsors under the 115th Congress.
The day it was announced, the bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Should the bill pass, and be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, cannabis businesses could have access to banking, and cannabis could be sold across state lines.