The House is not slowing down on the push for legalization of marijuana. There have been five bills introduced in the United States House of Representatives since the beginning of the 115th Congress (2017-2018). In addition, CO Representative, Jared Polis, has stated he will introduce his “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” again this year. Four of the five bills were introduced by Republicans and one by Democrats, showing marijuana legalization is a bipartisan issue. All five bills are aimed at loosening federal restrictions on marijuana.
HR – 1227, titled “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act” was introduced on February 27, 2017 by Representative Thomas Garrett a Republican from Virginia. The text is the same as the Senate Bill introduced in 2015 (S. 2237) by Senator Bernie Sanders. The purpose is to remove “marihuana” and “tetrahydrocannabinols” from Schedule I of section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In 2017, Rep. Garrett’s bill is co-sponsored by six house members: Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Scott Taylor (R-VA); Jared Polis (D-CO); Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Don Young (R-AK); Justin Amash (R-MI).
HR – 975, titled “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017” was introduced on February 7, 2017 by Representative Dana Rohrabacher a Republican from California. Rep. Rohrabacher introduced a “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” in the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016. The purpose is to amend the CSA for any provisions as related to marihuana. The provisions shall not apply to any person who produces, possesses, distributes, dispenses, administers, or delivers marijuana in compliance with state law. In 2017, Rep. Rohrabacher’s bill is co-sponsored by 14 house members: Steve Cohen (D-TN); Don Young (R-AK); Mark Pocan (D-WI); Ted Yoho (R-FL); Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Tom McClintock (R-CA); Dina Titus (D-NV); Duncan Hunter (R-CA); Jared Polis (D-CO); Justin Amash (R-MI); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Thomas Massie (R-KY); Mike Coffman (R-CO); Peter Welch (D-VT).
HR – 331, titled “States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act” was introduced on January 5, 2017 by Representative Barbara Lee a Democrat from California. The purpose is to amend the CSA to exempt real property from forfeiture, where the property is for medical marijuana –related conduct authorized by State law. This bill is co-sponsored by 5 house members: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Darren Soto (D-FL); Dina Titus (D-NV); Steve Cohen (D-TN); and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
HR – 714, titled “Legitimate Use of Medical Marihuana Act” or the “LUMMA” was introduced on January 27, 2017 by Representative Griffith Morgan a Republican from Virginia. The purpose of this bill is to reschedule Marihuana from schedule I of the CSA to schedule II. This bill has no co-sponsors.
HR – 715, titled “Compassionate Access Act” was introduced on January 27, 2017 by Representative Griffith Morgan a Republican from Virginia. This bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) a recommendation to transfer marijuana from schedule I of the CSA to another schedule. Following the recommendation, the DEA must consider and issue a final rule on reclassification. The bill permits research for marijuana and removes prohibition of physicians prescribing marijuana. The bill further removes “cannabidiol” from the definition of “marijuana”, so it is no longer covered under the CSA. Rep. Morgan introduced this bill in 2014 as well. This bill is co-sponsored by 2 house members: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Thomas Garrett (R-VA).
What does this mean?
As School House Rock taught us, a bill is just a bill, sitting on Capitol Hill. There’s a long way to go before a bill comes to a vote in the House. Some of these bills have been introduced in previous years and have never made it out of a committee. However, as more bills are introduced, more representatives from varying committees are involved which applies pressure on the house to address the issue. The five bills currently in the house are sponsored or co-sponsored by 21 representatives (10 democrats and 11 republicans) from 13 different states and the District of Columbia. In Tom Garrett’s Press Release for HR 1227, he noted during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation, Sessions stated if legislators did not like his approach to cracking down on federal marijuana crimes, they should change the laws. At least 21 representatives are ready to do just that.