A new congressional legislation, that will protect those individuals who are acting in conformity with state marijuana laws from federal prosecution and punishment, was filed by a bipartisan group of seven Republicans and six Democrats.
Titled the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017,” the bill adds a brand new provision to the Controlled Substances Act that reads:
“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 marijuana.”
In a drawn-out floor address declaring the bill, chief sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-CA asserted that the legislation falls in line with the principles of limited government and states’ rights that so many in his party profess to value:
“My bill would subsequently make sure that Federal law is aligned with the States’ as well as the people in those States’ desires so that the residents and businesses wouldn’t have to worry about Federal prosecution. For those few States which have thus far kept a policy of strict prohibition, my bill would alter nothing. I think that this is a reasonable compromise that places the primary responsibility of police powers back in the States and the local communities that are most directly affected.”
“I happen to believe that the Federal Government shouldn’t be locking up anyone for making a decision of what he or she should in private consume, whether that person is rich or poor, and we should never be giving peopl the excuse, particularly Federal authorities, that they have a right to stop people or intrude into their lives in order to prevent them and prevent others from smoking a weed, consuming something they personally want to consume.”
Rohrabacher, who ardently supported Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and was apparently regarded as a potential secretary of state nominee, mentioned the new president’s assurances to honor state marijuana laws.
The California representative subsequently gave a little history lesson, likening present federal policy impeding state laws to the British monarchy that U.S. founding fathers rebelled against, and comparing marijuana criminalization to the previously unsuccessful prohibition of alcohol.
Turning one marijuana stereotype on its head, he decried the federal government’s “paranoia” regarding the reality about marijuana as evidenced by the DEA’s longstanding attempts to block research on its medical advantages.
And referencing the increasingly controversial debate about health care reform, Rohrabacher said:
“Remember, as we discuss people’s health care, Republicans over and over again say: You shouldn’t get in between a physician and his patient. We believe in the doctor-patient relationship. That is certainly true for medical marijuana too. Do we believe in these principles?”
The brand new bill is the fourth piece of marijuana reform legislation to be introduced in the 115th Congress.
It’s identical to a bill Rohrabacher and others filed in the past Congress, which ended up garnering 20 co-sponsors but didn’t get a hearing nor a vote.