In early 2017, the first cannabis-focused congressional caucus was created by four bi-partisan House members; Democrats Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Jared Polis (CO) and Republicans Dana Rohrabacher (CA) and Don Young (AK). This pioneering caucus created a forum for elected officials to collaborate on ways to address our outdated federal marijuana laws. Two new members joined the cannabis caucus on Jan. 9, 2019, David Joyce (OH) and Barbara Lee (CA). David Joyce replaced Rohrabacher as the Republican sponsor of the amendment after original member Republican Dana Rohracher lost his re-election for governor of Colorado.
Joyce had this to say after becoming a part of the caucus, “I’m proud to join my colleagues in leading the effort to implement responsible, commonsense cannabis policies. It’s critical that we protect the rights of the states across the country, like Ohio, that have already done so at the state level. The federal government’s interference in this arena has stifled important medical research, interfered with doctors and patients making treatment decisions and harmed state-legal businesses. I look forward to working with Congressman Blumenauer, Congressman Young and Congresswoman Lee to advance sensible cannabis reforms that will benefit our nation’s veterans, patients and businesses across the country.”
Democrat Barbara Lee (CA) was the second to join the Cannabis Caucus with Joyce and she stated, “For far too long, communities of color and women have been left out of the conversation on cannabis. I’m committed to ensuring that marijuana reform goes hand-in-hand with criminal justice reform so we can repair some of the harm of the failed War on Drugs. We must also work to build an industry that is equitable and inclusive of the communities most impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
With so many states jumping on board in legalizing medical and recreational use of cannabis, things look promising for the future of national support for federal legalization of cannabis. Especially since so many Americans support the federal legalization of cannabis because they have had their health and overall lives significantly improved from the use of cannabis and CBD. Hopefully, Congress will catch up and align with the ever evolving needs of the American people that they were elected to represent.