The U.S. legal cannabis industry will no doubt be watching the progress of the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act very closely.
The Act, introduced last week, seeks to protect parties from some provisions of the Controlled Substances Act in circumstances where they are acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.
The Act has been tabled at an important time. Last week, the US Senate voted to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney-General in the Trump administration. As we’ve mentioned in the past, Senator Sessions’ views on cannabis aren’t particularly positive and in his new role of AG he’ll have significant clout.
While President Trump has previously indicated “100%” support for medical marijuana and appears to support states making their own rules, Session’s potential influence and power has given some in the U.S. cannabis industry the jitters.
The US federal appeals court last year banned the Department of Justice from spending funds to prosecute medical marijuana cases in circumstances where state laws have not been broken. However, the situation could change if Congress restores or provides funding specifically for this type of prosecution; hence the importance of the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (HR975).
Champion of Act is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who is no stranger to the medical cannabis debate. He has also been a medical marijuana patient, using it to treat his arthritis – and with success.
” Using limited law enforcement dollars when local people have voted to make it legal is abusive of our rights and contrary to what the founding fathers believed was a legitimate use of federal authority,” states Rep. Rohrabacher’s web site.
This isn’t the bill’s first rodeo – it was introduced in 2015 and in 2013, again by Rep. Rohrabacher. This time around, the bill has a dozen co-sponsors and with previous experience under his belt, it’s hoped this time the bill will become law.
“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue,” said Robert Capecchi, from the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is time to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and give states the authority to determine their own policies.
According to Mr. Capecchi, the vast majority of Americans now live in states that have adopted some sort of marijuana policy reform.
“Congress needs to listen to their constituents and to state lawmakers, most of whom agree marijuana policy is an issue best left to the states. This is a bipartisan solution that ought to find support on both sides of the aisle.”