Congress hears testimony on ending fed’l marijuana ban
Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security heard expert testimony challenging the federal government’s policy of cannabis prohibition. The hearing, entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” debated the merits of various alternative policy options – including abolishing cannabis’ longstanding Schedule I criminal status under federal law.
The hearing marked the first time in decades that members have entertained debate regarding the need to end the federal criminalization of cannabis and to de-schedule the plant from the Controlled Substances Act. Archived video of the proceedings is here:
Witnesses testifying at yesterday’s hearing were Dr. David Nathan of the group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, Dr. G. Malik Burnett (formerly of the Drug Policy Alliance), and Neal Levine, Chief Executive Officer of the Cannabis Trade Federation.
Their written testimony is available online.
Members of Congress in attendance at the hearing included: Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ben Cline (R-VA), Stephen Cohen (D-TN), Doug Collins (R-GA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), and Greg Stube (R-FL). Several members, including Reps. Cohen and Lieu, concurred with witnesses’ testimony that Congress should completely remove the cannabis plant from the federal Controlled Substances Act.
A coalition of social advocacy groups – including NORML, the ACLU, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, The Immigrants Legal Resource Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Center for American Progress – released a joint Statement of Principles to coincide with the hearing. The Principles, which were entered into the record, highlight legislative priorities and provide Congress with a roadmap for ending America’s ongoing policy of cannabis criminalization.
Commenting on the hearing, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “For the first time in a generation, members of Congress engaged in a candid conversation that acknowledged the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States, how this policy has adversely impacted tens of millions of Americans, and how it must be reformed at the federal level.”
He added: “The ongoing classification under federal law of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance – a categorization that treats it in the same manner as heroin – is intellectually dishonest and has been scientifically debunked. It is high time that Congress address this Flat Earth policy and move forward with a plan that appropriately reflects marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural status in America.
Cannabis use associated with lower risk of liver disease
SANTANDER, Spain — Subjects with a history of cannabis use are less likely than abstainers to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to longitudinal data published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.
A team of Spanish investigators assessed the relationship between cannabis use and liver steatosis over a three-year period. They determined that those subjects “who reported continuing cannabis use were at lower risk for developing NAFLD.”
They concluded: “Our results suggest that using cannabis could have a protective effect on liver steatosis. The beneficial effect of cannabis at the level of the development of steatosis seems to be secondary to its modulation effect on weight gain and the reduced development of obesity. … These results are in line with previous studies in the general population, in which cannabis showed significantly lower NAFLD prevalence compared to non-users.”
Delaware to expand expungement eligibility
DOVER, Del — Democratic Gov. John Carney has signed legislation into law permitting those with a broad range of non-violent misdemeanors to petition the state to have their criminal records expunged.
Senate Bill 37, which takes effect on December 27, 2019, permits those with criminal records for certain non-violent misdemeanor offenses to petition the State Bureau of Identification to have their history either sealed or expunged. The stated intent of the new law is to “protect persons from [the] unwarranted damage which may occur when the existence of a criminal history continues indefinitely.”
Separate legislation signed into law last year already provides “mandatory expungement eligibility to individuals who were convicted of the possession [of one ounce or less], use or consumption of marijuana prior to Delaware’s decriminalization of these offenses.”
State lawmakers in 2015 enacted legislation reducing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis from a criminal act to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine only – no arrest, and no criminal record.
Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.
ACLUBen ClinecannabisCannabis Trade FederationCenter for American ProgressCenter for Law and Social PolicyControlled Substances ActDavid CicillineDavid NathanDebbie Mucarsel-PowellDelawareDoug CollinsDrug Policy AllianceG. Malik BurnettGreg StubeHakeem JefferiesHuman Rights WatchImmigrants Legal Resource CenterJerrold NadlerJohn CarneyJustin StrekalKaren BassLawyers'Committee for Civil Rights Under LawLeadership Conference on Civil and Human RightsLucy McBathMadeleine Deanmarijuana lawsMarilyn MosbyMatt GaetzNAFLDNeal Levinenon-alcoholic fatty liver diseaseNORMLProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological PsychiatrySheila Jackson LeeSpainStephen CohenStudents for Sensible Drug PolicyTed DeutchTed LieuTom McClintockUnited States House of Representatives
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