Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California recently submitted a piece of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives targeted at preventing the federal government from enforcing states that have legalized cannabis for recreational or medical use. The proposal, which is entitled the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017,” would provide the marijuana community with immunity from federal punishment as long as they obey state law.
Although the bill (H.R. 975) would not force Congress to end prohibition in a manner that would allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated nationwide similar to alcohol, it would amend the Controlled Substances Act in such a way that state legalization could carry on without the risk of federal interference. That means as long as cannabis consumers and their respective marketplaces adhere to the laws outlined by the state, this proposal would ensure Sessions and the DEA have no power to conduct raids or any other pesky shakedown tactics. However, for those states that still consider cannabis an illegal substance, no changes will happen.
Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement, “This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue. It is time to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and give states the authority to determine their own policies. Federal tax dollars should not be wasted on arresting and prosecuting people who are following their state and local laws.” Similar legislation has been introduced over the past couple of years, but those bills never even received a hearing. There is hope that with all of the controversy surrounding Sessions and the potential dismantling of the legal cannabis trade that Congress will get serious about listening to the issue of national marijuana reform in the 2017 session.