Tulsi Gabbard, Don Young introduce marijuana reform bill

Tulsi Gabbard, Don Young introduce marijuana reform bill
© Courtesy photo

Reps. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungHundreds turn out for London's first transgender equality march The Hill's Morning Report — The wall problem confronting Dems and the latest on Dorian House passes bill requiring CBP to enact safety, hygiene standards MORE (R-Alaska) and Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy Beto needs to revive talk about his 'war tax' proposal Gabbard: 'Debate or no debate we are driving forward' MORE (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, introduced a pair of bipartisan marijuana reform bills Thursday.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would take marijuana off of the federal controlled substances list, giving full authority to states to regulate the substance without federal interference.

And the Marijuana Data Collection Act would evaluate the effects of marijuana legalization in states that have already done so.

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“Our archaic marijuana policies — based on stigma and outdated myths — have been used to wage a failed War on Drugs. Families have been torn apart, communities left fractured, and over-criminalization and mass incarceration have become the norm," Gabbard said at a press conference on the legislation.

"In 2017 alone, our country arrested 600,000 people just for possession of marijuana. Our bipartisan legislation takes a step toward ending the failed war on drugs, ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, and ensuring that our policies are guided by facts and the truth.”

Young, who represents a state that has legalized marijuana, said that removing federal involvement would help resolve problems from older federal regulations.

“I am a passionate supporter of a states’ rights approach to cannabis policy. For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own marijuana policy, and it is long past time Congress modernized these outdated laws,” said Young, who this week became the longest-serving Republican in House history.

“Since Alaska legalized marijuana, I have heard from many constituents — including small business owners — who have been impacted by archaic federal marijuana policy that criminalizes them for selling marijuana-derived products otherwise legal under state law."

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act mirrors the first portion of legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity CNN announces details for LGBTQ town hall MORE (D-N.J.) to legalize marijuana.

Booker's bill would go one step farther by incentivizing states to loosen their marijuana laws with federal funds.

It would also expunge previous marijuana-related federal convictions and establish a fund to invest in communities affected by mass incarceration due to marijuana-related arrests. 

Queen Adesuyi, policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said Thursday that Gabbard and Young's bills should be "a part of the conversation as Congress tackles marijuana with a racial justice lens.”

Ten states, as well as Washington, D.C., have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, with many more states legalizing its medicinal use.