Michael Steele: Congress needs to lead on cannabis reform and stand with the American public

I was disappointed to see Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AG) just recently rescind the Cole Memo, a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) file supplying standards to United States lawyers in states that have opted to legalize cannabis. This memo supplied defense to states whose citizens and appropriately chosen legislatures have legalized some kind of marijuana use.

While I might not remain in favor unconfined adult use for people over 21 years of age, I am a strong fan of medical marijuana. Various buddies and associates gain from the medical homes and discomfort relief offered by cannabis. I prefer state-based access to medical marijuana from both a philosophical and policy viewpoint. I also support the reform of our federal cannabis laws to bring conformity to federal policies and state laws. The general public’s mindset concerning cannabis is developing. In April 2017, a Quinnipiac survey found that 94 percent of Americans prefer, “enabling grownups to lawfully use marijuana for medical functions if their physician recommends it.”

This very same survey found that 73 percent opposed federal government disturbance into states that have legalized marijuana; generally, 3 from every 4 Americans protest the federal government implementing cannabis restriction laws in states that have legalized some type of marijuana use. Conservatives, Democrats, Progressives, Libertarians, and others throughout the political spectrum support a change in cannabis policy. Presently, 30 states and the District of Columbia, through referenda or legislation, have authorized some type of legal cannabis use. Their properly chosen state agents and executive companies enacted legislation and embraced guidelines to control the market. President Trump stated on the project path that he supports medical marijuana 100 percent. At the beginning of 2018, at least 12 states are thinking about legislating marijuana to a specific degree. Regrettably, assistance is not obvious at the upper levels of the DOJ. With the Cole Memo being withdrawn, the question now is: What can be done?

There are a variety of options, but they all should come through Congress. The AG, by getting rid of the Cole Memo, has positioned the onus on Congress to attend to the disputes in between federal law, as embodied in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and states that have decided to legalize cannabis in the past, or are thinking about future legislation that is suitable for their homeowners. With increasing public assistance for reform of our cannabis laws, and as more states legalize marijuana, Congress has the chance to carry out broad efforts to acknowledge the altering mindsets of the American public. Operating in a bipartisan fashion, Congress can and must stand with the 94 percent of Americans who support reforming our cannabis laws. At least Congress ought to embrace as part of the financial 2018 spending plan the Leahy change, which the Senate Appropriations Committee authorized on a bipartisan voice vote. This language, the Senate variation of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer change, avoids the federal government from disrupting state-legal medical cannabis systems.

In 2015, the last time the United States House of Representatives took a vote on the Rohrabacher– Blumenauer modification, it passed 242-186. Presently the 2018 Senate Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations costs consists of the Leahy modification language; your home CJS appropriations costs does not. Consisting of the Leahy language in the conference committee expense is an action in the ideal instructions. I prompt management and conferees to stand with the huge bulk of Americans and support this bipartisan, sound judgment language. The DOJ ought to not be pursuing medical marijuana clients who are following the laws of their particular states. The DOJ must be focusing its attention and minimal resources on more important and genuine problems. A brief search at Congress.gov shows over 40 pieces of pending legislation that handle marijuana policy.

There are differing and different policy options that Congress might enact. A lot of these costs have bipartisan assistance and successfully resolve the state-federal dispute. Rep. Thomas Garrett authored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) presented legislation to reschedule marijuana. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a long time GOP champ of reform, prepared the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) Small Company Tax Equity Act would bring tax equity to the cannabis market. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are blazing a trail in the United States Senate to increase research chances and permit marijuana services access to conventional banking services.

These are just a few of the Republicans leading on reform. There countless others in the GOP conference who are encouraging of altering federal laws associated with cannabis. To these lawmakers, I say thank you; I and many Americans are grateful for your deal with this issue. Whatever instructions Congress takes, the time to reform our country’s cannabis laws, is now. It’s time our chosen authorities, on both sides of the aisle, offer clearness and certainty to the countless people whose health and income depends upon medical cannabis.