GOP Congressman Cheers Passage Of Bill Urging DOJ To Study State Marijuana Laws To Prepare For Federal Legalization

A GOP congressman is applauding the House passage of an appropriations package that includes report language urging the Justice Department and other agencies to study state regulatory frameworks for marijuana in anticipation of federal legalization.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said on Thursday that, with “nearly every state adopting its own set of cannabis reforms, it is time for the federal government to respect the will of our voters and begin a much-needed conversation on what post-cannabis prohibition America looks like.”

He pointed specifically to a section of the House-passed Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations report that’s modeled after his standalone bill to prepare the federal government for eventual legalization.

That report language urges DOJ to work with the Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and other agencies with “relevant regulatory expertise” to assess the “adequacy of State marijuana regulatory frameworks, including commonalities and novel approaches to enforcement and oversight.”

The standalone bill that Joyce introduced with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) last April—titled the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE) Act—would direct the attorney general to create a commission charged with making recommendations on a regulatory system for cannabis that models what’s currently in place for alcohol.

In addition to the state regulatory framework report language, the underlying CJS bill that passed the House would also maintain protections for state medical cannabis programs, with an additional report section on expanding scientists’ access to commercially available cannabis for research.

The Senate is expected to vote on the appropriations package imminently ahead of a Friday midnight deadline on the current continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown.

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Meanwhile, lawmakers are continuing to negotiate a second package of spending measures that will include Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), which has long been the vehicle for a controversial rider that blocks Washington, D.C. from using its local tax dollars to implement marijuana sales, despite voters approving legalization in 2014.

The House has also previously attempted to use the FSGG bill to secure protections for banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses. It’s uncertain whether there will be a push for that language again as the Senate prepares to resume work on a standalone cannabis banking bill that cleared committee last September and is now pending floor action.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told Marijuana Moment on Wednesday that a bipartisan marijuana banking bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

The top Democratic and Republican sponsors of the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act also touted “momentum” and “productive” conversations to get the job done this year.

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Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.

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