Federal marijuana reform found broad bipartisan support Wednesday on Capitol Hill during a first-of-its-kind hearing held by members of the House Judiciary Committee.
Scheduled by the panel’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, the hearing marked the first time Congress has specifically convened to consider ending marijuana prohibition since federally outlawing pot decades earlier.
“There is a growing consensus in this country that current marijuana laws are not appropriate and we must consider reform,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and the subcommittee’s chairwoman. “Today’s hearing is a first step in that process.”
“Marijuana decriminalization may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session,” stated Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican. “I believe we should do everything we can to prevent its use by children and warn of its use by adults, but it ought to be crystal clear to everyone that our laws have not accomplished their goals.”
Marijuana is federally outlawed on account of its status under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug, where pot is classified in the same category as heroin. A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to recent polling, and most states have passed their own laws legalizing pot in spite of federal prohibition, however.
“The whole system to me seems irrational,” Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, said during the hearing. “I think marijuana should be taken completely off of the Controlled Substances Act.”
At least two Republican members of the panel, including Mr. McClintock and the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, described the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws as unsustainable, meanwhile.
“The legal status of marijuana in the United States is in complete disarray,” said Mr. Collins.
Two-thirds of American support legalizing marijuana, a Gallup poll concluded in October, and nearly three-fourths of voters are in favor of preventing the federal government from interfering with state marijuana law, a Quinnipiac poll concluded last year.
Thirty-three states have enacted laws legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, including 10 that allow adults to use pot for recreational purposes.
Several bills being considered on Capitol Hill would either end federal marijuana prohibition or otherwise reform the nation’s pot laws, and last month the House voted to advance a measure blocking the Department of Justice from enforcing federal marijuana laws in legal pot states.
President Trump previously said he supports protecting the right for states to legalize marijuana, while several Democratic candidates running for the White House have campaigned on ending federal prohibition.
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