The creation of the Cannabis Caucus is a milestone for the revision of federal cannabis laws

Everyday, the use of the plant is becoming more accepted, seen in a better light and want it or not a part of American mainstream culture.  One example of this influence is the fact that here is now a caucus in Congress that works to protect and expand the growing cannabis economy and the social and medical movement that propels it.  The co-chairs of the Cannabis Caucus are founding members Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, Jared Polis, D-Colorado and Rep. Don Young, Alaska.  These lawmakers have realized the confusion that has been created by the regulation of a plant that some states say is legal or that you can use it to heal yourself, being supervised by a federal government that considers it illegal, highly dangerous and with no medicinal use.

“The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level”[1]

The Cannabis Caucus was created because of the need of individual lawmakers to craft legislation for their own states and they decided to form a caucus to advocate for these issues together as a bloc.  Furthermore, they are aided by the fact that political affiliation is not a source of friction but instead a tool to broaden participation among other congressional members.  They seek to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to serve as a go-between federal and state cannabis laws.

Dana Rohrabacher (CA), a Republican from California stated that he even treated his own arthritis with cannabis.

“The first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night’s sleep because the arthritis pain was gone”[2]

For the first time since prohibition began in the 1920s a sitting member of the House of Representatives openly admits using marijuana.  What is going on? Is cannabis taking over the Capitol Building?  No, definitely not but there are 25 marijuana related bills in the house since 2015 and three that are up for discussion this year are:

  • R. 331 – States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California): Prevents civil asset forfeiture for property owners of state-sanctioned medical marijuana facilities.
  • R. 714 – Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marihuana Act, or LUMMA (sponsored by Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, R-Virginia): Moves marijuana to Schedule II on the Controlled Substances Act and provides that no provision of the CSA or Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act could prohibit the prescription/recommendation, use, transport, possession, manufacture or distribution under state law in states with medical marijuana regulations.
  • R. 715 – Compassionate Access Act (sponsored by Griffith): To provide for “the rescheduling of marihuana, the medicinal use of marihuana in accordance with state law and the exclusion of cannabidiol from the definition of marihuana, and for other purposes.” The bill, which includes language on research, also would not allow CBD to be treated as a controlled substance.[3]

Who are these cannabis heroes in DC, these politicians who without hesitation or scandal are proud to say “I’m advocating for weed.”  All four of them come from states that have legalized cannabis and have direct contact with constituents that are clear about what all this means for them and their state government.  They hear direct concerns from the people they represent like: “What if the federal government raids us” or “What if I can’t get my medicine anymore?”  Which is all a bit perplexing seeing that as many as 30 states now have medical marijuana programs.  Consequently, these are the conflicts that arise between the ongoing prohibitionist stance of the federal government as opposed to that of the states and the people who voted in great majorities for the legalization of medical marijuana.  It’s a bit complicated and The Cannabis Caucus hopes to be able to sort out some of these differences in opinion as well as laws.

It shows courage on their part knowing that the federal government officially still considers marijuana as having “no medical use.”  While their courage is to be admired it also shows the current changes taking place in our society in terms of how cannabis is viewed.  Normally something like this would be ridiculed, but the idea and the energy behind cannabis has brought together people from both sides of the aisle to make changes for those who suffer and lack access to this natural and effective plant.

Now there are quite a few caucuses out there, most we never hear from like: The Cement, Aluminum or the Congressional Chicken Caucus.  Laugh if you want but it’s here that these industries place their money and make sure their allies in these caucuses do all they can to either kill or push for legislation concerning their product, geographical region or belief.  As voting blocs they hold more weight and wield at times even a superior influence then they should numerically.

Now, caucuses are as numerous as there are issues that the US congress debates on.   Yet, after all the caucuses that have been created the idea of their actually being one dedicated to a plant is pretty amazing.  It is now to be seen if other members of congress are brave enough to form part and how much influence and clout these group of lawmakers can bring to the discussion of cannabis in the US.

Click here if you want to tell your representative to sign up for the Cannabis Caucus:

http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=20053

[1] http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/02/06/congress-marijuana-legislation-cannabis-caucus/72897/

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/05/25/a-gop-congressman-says-he-used-medical-marijuana-while-in-office/?utm_term=.bcc302634ad6

[3] http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/02/06/congress-marijuana-legislation-cannabis-caucus/72897/

Post Author: James McCallum

James McCallum
Native of Virginia with a BA in political science and a Master in International Cooperation.  After getting his feet wet harvesting olives in Andalusia during university, he decided to leave the city behind and for the past five years he has been living a self-sufficient life in Sardinia running his farm along with his wife at La Casa Verde.  Growing all of their own food requires a profound interest and respect for the production of what his family needs and this coincides with his appreciation of the plants and the surrounding world that he believes we are called to use, learn from and protect.

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