Comprehensive federal marijuana reform legislation seems to be gathering momentum in Washington.
The Marijuana Justice Act has been introduced in both the House (HR 1456) and the Senate (S.597)
The bill would remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis—a designation that has held back serious medical research about the value of cannabis in the U.S.
It also incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests, expunges federal convictions specific to marijuana possession, allows individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing and creates a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.
10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use—and medical marijuana and other limited uses of cannabis are now approved in 33 states plus the District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia and 10 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, Michigan voters approved a ballot measure permitting adults age 21 and over to purchase and possess recreational-use marijuana. Vermont became the first state earlier this year to legalize marijuana for recreational use through the legislative process, rather than via a ballot measure. Vermont’s law allows for adults age 21 and over to grow and possess small amounts of cannabis. However, it does not permit the sale of nonmedical cannabis. Some other state laws similarly decriminalized marijuana but did not initially legalize retail sales.
Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that allow for treatment varying from state to state. Louisiana, West Virginia and a few other states allow only for cannabis-infused products, such as oils or pills. Other states have passed narrow laws allowing residents to possess cannabis only if they suffer from select medical illnesses.
“There’s an emerging federal consensus regarding how the United States is going to end prohibition,” said Justin Strekal, Political for NORML which has been working for nearly fifty years to legalize marijuana. Strekal urged people to contact their House representative and Senators urging passage of the bills.