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US House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler to reintroduce MORE Act.
In opening remarks on Thursday during a Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on “Controlled Substances: Federal Policies and Enforcement,” Rep. Nadler said he would reintroduce the MORE Act.
“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the use of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the federal level has been both costly and biased. I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities,” he said.
“That is why I will be reintroducing the MORE Act to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide restorative justice for communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the War on Drugs,” he added.
+ More: Read Cannabis Wire’s in-depth story on what to expect on cannabis in the new Congress.
A new Congressional Research Service report focuses on cannabis and taxes.
A new report, titled The Application of Internal Revenue Code Section 280E to Marijuana Businesses: Selected Legal Issues, focuses on the history of this tax code and how various cannabis proposals in Congress would affect it.
The report ends with a quote from former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, saying that he “expressed that marijuana businesses’ lack of access to financial services ‘creates significant problems for the IRS,’” and that he added, “We have to build cash rooms where we have to take in cash because many of these entities are . . . not banked. . . . That creates significant risk in the communities [where] we’re collecting.”
Nebraska, Alabama committees hear medical cannabis bills.
For nearly two hours last week, Nebraska lawmakers heard testimony on LB474, the Medical Cannabis Act, introduced by Sen. Anna Wisehart, who was part of the effort to get medical cannabis on the November ballot before it was stripped by the Supreme Court. (As Cannabis Wire reported, it was the first time a cannabis ballot measure that qualified was subsequently removed.)
“Not much has changed in the words of this bill since we debated it on the floor of the legislature in 2020. But a lot has changed in the hearts and minds of countless Nebraskans who are impacted by these words,” Wisehart said at the start of the hearing.
“If you haven’t noticed, our movement has grown. In 2020, we launched a petition drive and in the span of several months we recruited over a thousand Nebraskans to help us collect over 190,000 signatures. And we did all of that and accomplished it during a pandemic. Had it not been for a last minute lawsuit and Supreme Court decision, our initiative would have passed by a vote of the people. I have no doubt on that. … And no amount of money spent in opposition is going to change the minds of people who care about their fellow Nebraskans.”
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is a vocal opponent of cannabis reform.
While Alabama’s medical cannabis effort in 2020 didn’t get as far as Nebraska’s, there was some momentum behind a bill introduced by Sen. Tim Melson. The bill cleared the Senate before it died, as did many other cannabis-related bills as COVID-19 quickly spread.
Melson reintroduced medical cannabis this year, as SB 46, and it quickly cleared the Senate last month. The bill would not allow for smokable products (including vapes). Much of the conversation focused on the fact that the FDA has not approved medical cannabis, and on negative impacts on mental health, among other concerns.
At the end of the hearing, Melson responded that COVID-19 vaccines are not FDA approved, but that people in the room were willing to get them anyway. “I’m just saying, if the shoe fits for you, make the same one fit for these other people that need this,” he said, referencing medical cannabis.
He then turned to opponents’ broader concerns and said, “I agree with probably 60 percent of what you all said. The problem is, it’s apples and oranges. You’re talking about recreational and not medical.”
He then addressed concerns about creating a new regulatory body to oversee the program. “We want to be small government. I get it. But the public safety and the patients’ rights and the patient safety require that we create this department,” he said.
Then, turning to concerns about cannabis appealing to kids, he said, “We’re not talking about any raw product. We’re not talking about sugar-coated candy. I heard the Scooby Doo package. What the heck does Scooby Doo package got to do with this? We’re not going to have anything that makes it want to be enticing to children. We want to make it where it’s a medicine.”
The meeting ended without a vote, and will be back on the agenda this week, at which point amendments can be put forth and discussed.
Wyoming lawmakers advance adult use bill.
On Friday, Wyoming’s House Judiciary Committee advanced HB0209, an adult use legalization bill introduced by Representative Jared Olsen, a Republican.
Olsen noted ahead of his opening remarks that “almost fifty percent” of the Committee had already signed on to the bill. He then said that the “question in front of this Committee” is simply: “Is Wyoming ready to legalize marijuana?”