Oregon congressman Earl Blumenauer, one of Congress’ most vocal marijuana proponents, is the author of an eight-page document, which consists of a step-by-step plan to enact the end of federal cannabis prohibition. Blumenauer’s plan, which he submitted to the Democratic Leader last Wednesday, is to legalize marijuana if the Democrats were to take back control over the House.
In his memo, Blumenauer argues that “democrats should lead the way” in ending cannabis prohibition and in making sure that Congress gets on the same page as the American people and the states on this issue.
Indeed, this year alone, House Republican leaders have prevented the passage of dozens of cannabis-related amendments and have barred every marijuana measure from advancing to a vote. Yet, recent legislative and referendum developments reveal the growing popularity of cannabis. In his memo, Blumenauer cites to polling showing that 69 percent of registered voters support legalizing marijuana.
The Oregon congressman explains that his proposed plan, to which he refers as a “Blueprint to Legalize Marijuana,” would enable a Democratic House to put pressure on the Senate, where support for cannabis reform has been slowly growing with now nearly 20 introduced bills.
“If we fail to act swiftly, I fear as the 2020 election approaches, Donald Trump will claim credit for our work in an effort to shore up support—especially with young voters,” Blumenauer wrote. “Democrats must seize the moment.”
The legislator recommends that congressional committees hold hearings on the topics in the first quarter of 2019 to debate potential policy solutions. For example, Blumenauer mentions that the Judiciary Committee could hold a hearing on descheduling the plant; that the Energy and Commerce Committee could examine marijuana research; and that the Financial Services cold look at hurdles marijuana growers and entrepreneurs are facing when attempting to access banking services and capital.
By the second quarter, Blumenauer claims that the committees should have the ability to start marking up legislation to narrow the gap between federal and state marijuana laws. The House would then have to pass a marijuana package combining the bills passed by those committees but would need to do so before the annual August recess.
“With the marijuana policy gap diminished, after months of hearings and markups, the House should pass a full descheduling bill and work with Senate allies to guide the bill through Senate passage,” he said. Blumenauer’s hope is for the descheduling to occur by December 2019.
On the same day he released his blueprint to legalize marijuana, Blumenauer also announced that he was introducing a new bill, aimed at fixing Canadian border issues related to marijuana, called the Maintaining Appropriate Protections for Legal Entry (“MAPLE”) Act. The Act would “exempt cannabis-use and/or participation in the cannabis industry as a disqualification for entry into the United States from a country that has ended its marijuana prohibition.” In addition, the Act would protect foreign nationals engaged in cannabis activities in states where it is legal from being deported.
Rep. Blumenauer’s efforts and strong advocacy for cannabis reform are encouraging steps that will hopefully inspire legislators across the aisle, whether or not Democrats take back control over the House, to end federal cannabis prohibition by the end of next year.