A formal, bi-partisan caucus representing marijuana interests now exists in Congress. Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK) and Jared Polis (D-CO) held a brief press conference to officially kick off the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and identify their goals.
The main focus of the press conference was to prevent federal interference into state laws. Each of the four members comes from a state that has passed a ballot initiative to allow for recreational marijuana. The group made it clear that the current laws are broken, and that it’s the job of Congress to fix them. Rather than relying on the whims of the President and the Attorney General, their objective will be to pass new laws to regulate the sale and use of marijuana. They will set out initially to de-schedule marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” drugs such as heroin, fix unfair taxation issues, create a way for marijuana businesses to have access to banks instead of dealing with large amounts of cash, and prevent federal authorities from interfering with state laws.
The group noted that 95% of the US public now lives in a state with some form of access to marijuana. In Colorado, underage use is down and crime is down, according to Rep. Polis. “The Colorado model is working”.
Our Take: This is very important. Having a credible bi-partisan group that can educate other Congressman and that will actively move to introduce legislation will make a big difference. Over time, the cannabis industry will get more and more effective with their lobbying, and having allies in Congress is key.
Watch the Congressional Cannabis Caucus press conference below.