Republicans Call for Federal Legalization of Marijuana to Guarantee “Individual Freedom”

Republican lawmakers this week introduced legislation that would legalize and regulate marijuana at the federal level, saying the proposal was necessary to ensure “individual liberty” and protect the rights of states.

Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, introduced the bill to end the long-standing federal marijuana ban with Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska.

The bill would remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances; call on the government to create a regulatory framework for marijuana similar to that of the alcohol industry; authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical cannabis; and protect financial institutions dealing with distributors and producers of marijuana.

“For too long, the federal government’s outdated cannabis policies have obstructed both individual liberty and a state’s 10th Amendment rights. It is high time that these archaic laws were updated for the 21st century, ”Young said in a statement from wednesday.

Marijuana takes place at the annual New York Cannabis Parade and Rally in support of the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana on May 1 in New York City.
ANGELA WEISS / AFP via Getty Images

The Republican congressman said he was “proud” to represent a state that has already legalized and regulated marijuana.

“This bill takes important steps to modernize our laws by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans, in addition to finally allowing legal cannabis companies to use traditional financial services, ”he said.

Joyce issued a similar statement, explaining the importance of his bill.

“With more than 40 states taking action on this issue, it is high time that Congress recognized that the continued ban on cannabis is neither tenable nor the will of the American electorate,” the lawmaker said. GOP. Joyce said he was eager to work with Democrats and Republicans to pass the bill.

As Joyce pointed out, most states in the United States have already made progress in cannabis legislation. Dozens of states have already legalized medical cannabis, while 17 states and Washington, DC have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Despite this reality, cannabis remains listed as a banned Schedule 1 drug, according to the federal government.

“With an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting an end to the cannabis ban, it is clear that our country has a mandate to create a legal industry that supports both medical and adult use. This is a bipartisan issue. “said Steve Hawkins, Executive Director. to the Marijuana Policy Project which advocates for legalization, said in an emailed statement to News week Thursday. Hawkins hailed the Republican proposal as “a promising step forward.”

Notably, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives already passed a law in December that would legalize cannabis at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (or MORE Act) was passed in the House with the support of five Republicans, one independent and all but six Democrats. However, this legislation stalled in the Senate, which was then controlled by Republicans.

A senior Democratic official bragged about the MORE law when contacted for comment by News week on the Republican proposal.

“The MORE Act represents one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced and passed by the House, as it not only decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, but addresses the devastating injustices caused by the war on drugs, which Democrats believe should be included in any meaningful federal legislation, ”the aide said.

A Gallup poll released in November showed that support for legalizing marijuana had reached a new high. The survey found that 68% of Americans believe the use of marijuana should be legalized. This marked a slight increase from the 66% who supported legalization the year before, and a dramatic increase from just 12% who supported the legalization of cannabis in 1969, when Gallup began polling Americans on the issue. .

Updated at 4:36 p.m. ET, with commentary from a senior Democratic official.