With Sessions Eyeing Marijuana, Watch H.R. 975

Congressman Dana Rohrbacher’s appearance at High Times’ Cannabis Cup in 2016, posted here with permission from Roni Stetter

While the President’s position on marijuana remains hazy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it quite clear that he has watched Reefer Madness over six thousand times, and may go after states that have legalized it. Medicinal users are currently protected under the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment passed in 2014, which blocked the Department of Justice from messing with state medicinal laws. As the provision is included as part of a Congressional spending package, it needs to be re-authorized every year, and is currently set to expire on April 28th.

In light of this, and seeking a more expansive, permanent protection of pro-pot states, California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (CA48) introduced H.R. 975, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, with thirteen co-sponsors last month. As introduced to the House:

 A BILL
 
   To amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for a new rule 
   regarding the application of the Act to marihuana, and for other 
                               purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 
2017''.

SEC. 2. RULE REGARDING APPLICATION TO MARIHUANA.

    Part G of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) is 
amended by adding at the end the following:

``SEC. 710. RULE REGARDING APPLICATION TO MARIHUANA.

    ``Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the provisions of 
this subchapter related to marihuana shall not apply to any person 
acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, 
possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of 
marihuana.''.

Co-sponsors of the bill include fellow Republicans Justin Amash (MI08), Don Young (AKAL), Ted Yoho (FL03), Tom McClintock (CA04), Duncan Hunter (CA50), Thomas Massie (KY04), Mike Coffman (CO06), and Democrats Steve Cohen (TN09), Mark Pocan (WI02), Earl Blumenauer (OR03), Dina Titus (NV01), Jared Polis (CO02), Barbara Lee (CA13), and Peter Welch (VTAL).

Twenty-eight states have legalized the drug for medicinal use, eight for recreational, including Massachusetts, California, and Maine, whose voters approved it just months ago. Unlike the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment which focused on medical marijuana, this bill would offer protection to the states that have legalized it for recreational purposes as well.

The bill has been referred to both the House Judiciary and House Energy and Commerce Committees.

Representatives Blumenauer, Polis, Rohrbacher, and Young formed the Congressional Cannabis Caucus on February 16th.

Upon committee approval and a House vote, the bill will need to be approved by the Senate, currently controlled by Republicans. Earlier today, Cory Gardner came out against the recent tough talk on pot and told constituents he will defend the state’s current status quo.