Marijuana legalization has been an extended, uphill battle, however Representative Earl Blumenauer is constructive issues will solely enhance from right here.
“I know for a fact that this is the most pro-cannabis Congress in history,” the Portland-based legislator stated over the telephone. “It’s going to continue.”
The Democratic consultant for Oregon’s third district since 1996, Blumenauer is a lifelong public servant who has fought for legalization since his time in the state legislature and Portland City Council. A state legislator recent out of school when Oregon turned the first state to decriminalize marijuana in 1973, Blumenauer factors to these early debates as foundational for his lengthy standing outlook on the concern.
“I became firmly convinced then as a part of the debate’s research that the failed policy of prohibition of marijuana was ill-advised and unfair and made no sense. It’s something I have continued to work on, it’s an issue I have felt strongly about in Congress.”
At 70 years previous, Blumenauer is the fiercest advocate for marijuana in Congress. Assisting almost 90 candidates all through the 2018 marketing campaign season, he has turn into a supply of data for these interested by the substance’s present authorized standing and future legislative alternatives. The bow-tie loving Congressman might characterize certainly one of the most secure Democratic districts in the nation, however he understands the significance of working throughout the aisle to finish the federal authorities’s restrictive outlook on weed.
Blumenauer is a co-founder and co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan group that works to slender the hashish coverage hole and help different members of Congress with their legalization proposals. Originally established in 2017, the Cannabis Caucus is now co-chaired by Democrats Blumenauer and Barbara Lee (CA-13) in addition to Republicans David Joyce (OH-14) and Don Young (AK), one other co-founder. Blumenauer calls it a discussion board for members and employees “to exchange ideas and work together.”
When requested why legalization is usually labeled a Democratic challenge, Blumenauer blames President Nixon’s “blatantly political” War on Drugs. The restrictive, regulation enforcement heavy strategy proceeded regardless of the lenient suggestions made in The Report of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. In Blumenauer’s view, the insurance policies enabled the administration to “demonize people they perceived as their enemies, people of color and kids,” and that angle set the tempo for the Republican social gathering.
Even although the Congressman can level to quite a few examples of Republican management torpedoing hashish laws, together with his personal amendments that might have made it simpler for the Department of Veterans Affairs to entry medical marijuana, he believes federal legalization is turning into an more and more non-partisan concern.
“We work with Republicans,” Blumenauer stated of his ongoing efforts. “All our legislation we work to have bipartisan support to give them another chance, but I think the reason it’s been perceived as something more oriented towards Democrats is Republicans have been on the wrong side of this issue.”
Countering the narrative that marijuana is a gateway drug, the Congressman identified that states with authorized medical marijuana have fewer opiate deaths per yr. Furthermore, he believes that the present system has made it simpler for black markets to thrive and goal younger clients, with sellers typically introducing new merchandise as a option to diversify their choice and retain their clientele.
“Having a failed policy of trying to suppress cannabis, failing to regulate, tax and educate, is key to having a thriving black market,” Blumenauer stated. “I’ve been campaigning all over the country for years on this and I’ve never been any place where people felt that a young person had a harder time getting a joint than a six-pack of beer.”
To help his allies in the 116th Congress, Blumenauer launched a memo laying out a multi-pronged strategy to attaining legalization. With Democrats firmly in management of the House for the first time since the 2010 elections, Blumenauer needs to see various totally different committees maintain hearings associated to marijuana coverage. He even launched his personal invoice, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, aptly designated H.R. 420, in January.
The Financial Services Committee, chaired by Maxine Waters (CA-43), was lately accredited by the House Financial Services Committee. If signed into regulation, the invoice would permit companies and people related to the authorized hashish business to make use of federal banks, permitting them to securely deposit their money and entry expanded strains of credit score.
“The problems surrounding denying the state-legal cannabis industry access to banking services is so ludicrous on its face if you care about money laundering, or theft, or tax evasion,” Blumenauer stated of his help for the invoice. “This is going to be evolutionary.”
Of crucial significance to the Congressman are points associated to social justice, like expunging legal data and performing acts of restorative justice, to make it simpler for communities who have been impacted by prohibition to profit from the authorized modifications.
“Being able to give them a clean slate, give them an opportunity to participate in a growing economic sector, is important. [The marijuana industry is] going to be bigger than the N.F.L. in a few years and I think that’s going to be an important conversation that we’re going to have more attention on.”
As Congress hums alongside, the early days of the 2020 marketing campaign have additionally introduced renewed consideration to the concern with a number of candidates speaking about their former use and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroducing the Marijuana Justice Act. No matter what occurs in 2020, Blumenauer isn’t ambiguous about his beliefs for the future as extra states get behind legalization of some type.
“Let me simply state unequivocally: there’ll by no means be one other president elect who’s anti-cannabis. It won’t occur.”
Of the 9 states that had legalization measures on the poll in 2016, together with swing states like Florida and Nevada, hashish typically acquired a better proportion of votes than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which means it has turn into a nonpartisan difficulty so far as the citizens is worried. 2016 even noticed medical marijuana breach the Bible Belt with the passage of Arkansas’ Issue 6, breaking the seal for neighboring states to develop their very own medical industries in the coming years.
It’s a little bit of an understatement to say that Blumenauer is optimistic about the place issues are headed. Sure, somebody might stand up and turn out to be the new Pete Sessions, a fiery anti-marijuana Republican who Blumenauer known as “public enemy number one” in Congress, however with the debate lastly shifting in the direction of substantial coverage questions that’s not what Blumenauer’s targeted on.
“There may be a few other people who are there, but I think in the main, it’s highly unlikely that people are going to run out there and lift this banner and crusade against this,” Bluenauer theorized. “We’ll be ready if they do, but I think it’s much less likely.”