Senator Files ‘420’ Marijuana Bill To Legalize It Federally
For the second time in the first 3 months of 2019, marijuana legislation has been officially designated with the bill number S. 420 in Congress. It seems as though it's an obvious nod to the increasingly popular cannabis culture from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) proposal, S.420, is attempting to remove marijuana from the CSA, Controlled Substances Act, by descheduling it, as well as establishing a federal excise tax on sales and creating a system of permits for businesses to be able to sell cannabis.
April 20th, known as 4/20, is the day marijuana enthusiasts celebrate their favorite plant.
Senator Wyden thinks the bill might get some laughs, but it should get people talking about the major need to end failed prohibition and that's what matters most.
The new Senate bill, filed on Thursday, February 7th, is nowhere near the first time that "420" has been officially attached to cannabis legislation.
Another federal lawmaker out of Oregon, Democrat Representative Earl Blumenauer, filed a bill just last month to regulate marijuana just like alcohol that was numbered H.R. 420.
A couple of weeks after that a Democrat and Republican lawmaker in Minnesota introduced a bill to legalize marijuana designated as HF 420.
Rhode Island's senator in 2017 introduced a bill, S 420, to legalize marijuana.
California's first move to enact medical cannabis regulations statewide was using legislation numbered SB 420 in 2003.
Also in 2003 was an amendment, Roll Call 420, where the House voted on Capitol Hill to try and prevent the DOJ (Department of Justice) from interfering with each states medical cannabis laws.
Senator Wyden said, "federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed." In the press release, commanding, "It's time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding."
The Political Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Justin Strekal, believes the bill is a thorough and thoughtful way that the government could finally end prohibition federally. He also thinks Wyden has a much-needed, unique perspective that the nation's upper chamber would be smart to follow because he is coming from the state the was first to decriminalize marijuana way back in 1973.
Along with the S.420, which is trying to create regulations on labeling and packaging of cannabis products as well as creating guidelines to the product that are the same as alcohol advertising, the Senator introduced two other pieces this week regarding marijuana legislation.
The first amendment, S. 421 is trying to reduce the gap between State and Federal marijuana policies. It wants to implement several changes such as expunging criminal records, allowing the Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to issue recommendations of medical cannabis, eliminating advertising prohibitions, allowing banking access for cannabis companies, exempting state-legal marijuana from the CSA, and shielding immigrants from deportation over marijuana.
Currently, legal cannabis businesses are prevented from getting tax deductions that businesses in other industries get because of federal provision 280(E). Wyden's S.422 bill would make them exempt from this law. This is the only new proposal of Wyden's that has cosponsors right of the bat. Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Democrat Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Democrat Patty Murray of Washington also signed on to the legislation.
All three of the bills had previous versions filed by Wyden during the last Congress, but none had enough support to be brought to a vote.
This time around the cannabis legislation is making advocates for legalization more hopeful than ever about the likelihood for federal marijuana reform.
The House Democratic majority will hold a hearing next week on marijuana businesses' lack of bank access, which is part of the plan proposed by Blumenauer in a memo to the party leaders encompassing moving a number of small reform bills that will eventually lead to the federal legalization of marijuana in 2019.
“Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” Representative Blumenauer stated in a press release. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.”
In recent years, Congress has seen a number of bills to end federal marijuana prohibition all with differing approaches, but none have made it past the formation of previous House leaders and is not certain if a Republican-controlled Senate would agree as well.
President Donald Trump has suggested his support for legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Meanwhile, activists are excited for the increased interest of lawmakers' for marijuana reform on Capitol Hill and continue to have lighthearted optimism.
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