Overnight Regulation

OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Surgeon general softens on pot

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of rules from Capitol Hill and beyond. It’s about time for the Washington Press Club Foundation’s Congressional Dinner, so without further adieu:



Pot politics are heating up in Washington.

Marijuana advocates in Congress feel new momentum after Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Wednesday that pot “can be helpful” for certain medical conditions. http://bit.ly/1DyONbF

{mosads}”It adds tremendous credibility for the nation’s top doctor to say that,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told The Hill.

Speaking to “CBS This Morning,” Murthy suggested an openness to wider use of medical marijuana.

“We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms that marijuana can be helpful,” Murthy said.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) hopes the surgeon general’s comments will help remove the “taboo” surrounding marijuana.

Some Democrats also hope Murthy could help pressure the Justice Department to loosen restrictions on marijuana by removing it from the same list of banned substances as cocaine and heroin.  

“It’s certainly helpful,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said.

But Republicans slammed the surgeon general’s comments.

“I would ask that our surgeon general not make medical decisions based on political correctness, but instead consult the science,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.)

“The evidence is mounting of the negative consequences,” he added. 



The House is expected to vote on the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015, which would force federal agencies to calculate the indirect, as well as direct costs, of proposed rules. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee will have a hearing on the Guantanamo Detention Facility and the future of the U.S. detention policy. http://1.usa.gov/1I3o4KW

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing to discuss what the joint employer standard should be in business ownership. http://1.usa.gov/1KdW6ty

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the proposed data breach notification legislation and how to get the rule right. http://1.usa.gov/1C0VALv

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the drinking water protection act, which sets certain requirements for drinking water operators to ensure consumers are getting safe water. http://1.usa.gov/1z1otY6

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to discuss  how the U.S. “squandered” the opportunity to promote human rights in Cuba. http://1.usa.gov/1DxHLUq



The Obama administration will publish 138 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday’s edition of the Federal Register.

Here’s what to watch:

–The Department of the Interior will issue new rules for the restoration of abandoned mines.

The Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will provide communities with the opportunity to reclaim abandoned non-coal mines.

This could include cleaning polluted surface water as well as fixing dangerous entrances to underground mines, among other things.

The new rules go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1C1Cs08

–The Environmental Protection Agency will loosen the emissions rules for an ingredient commonly found in paints and inks.

The compound known as t-butyl acetate will no longer face record-keeping or emissions reporting requirements under the Clean Air Act.

“There is no evidence that (t-butyl acetate) is being used at levels that would cause concern for ozone formation,” the EPA writes.

The public has 60 days to comment. http://bit.ly/1xjSMUI

–The Department of Education will expand vocational training opportunities on Indian reservations.

The Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services is redefining what it considers an Indian reservation, so that more areas qualify for the vocational rehabilitation grants.

The changes go into effect in 30 days. http://bit.ly/1zanr7F

–The Department of Agriculture will fix errors it made in its organic regulations.

The corrections go into effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1AtB1JJ

–The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may issue new mailing standards.

The USPS is proposing new domestic mailing standards that will include slight price changes for some forms of mail.

The public has 30 days to comment. http://bit.ly/16ihNcJ 



Unfunded mandates: The House on Wednesday passed the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2015, which would require federal agencies to evaluate the full economic effects of regulations. http://bit.ly/16pCwvB

Wood heaters: The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with a new rule that will limit the amount of pollution from household wood heaters. http://bit.ly/1Cw5KXt

Dietary supplements: Senate Democrats are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to do a nationwide investigation after four major retailers were accused of selling mislabeled and tainted dietary supplements in their New York stores.  http://bit.ly/1zLkn7a

Marijuana: The nation’s top doctor on Wednesday suggested an openness to wider use of medical marijuana, saying the drug might offer some medical benefits. http://bit.ly/1DyONbF

Cuba: Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said President Obama left members of Congress and most of his administration in the dark when negotiating the plan to normalize relations with Cuba, and they criticized the deal struck between the U.S. and Havana. http://bit.ly/16igbj7

Internet rules: Federal regulators will follow President Obama’s call and reclassify Internet service so that it can be regulated like a utility, the head of the Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday. http://bit.ly/1KsJyN6

Power Grid: U.S. energy regulators released information on vulnerabilities within the nation’s power grid, the Washington Post reported. http://wapo.st/16ALc2W

Guns: Ferguson, Mo. Police begin testing new ‘less-lethal’ attachments for guns, the Washington Post reported. http://wapo.st/1AtBprJ



$358 million: The 2013 total for U.S. exports to Cuba in agricultural products, medical devices, medicine, and humanitarian items.

$35 million: The total amount in civil penalties and monetary settlements related to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s enforcement actions involving Cuba in 2014.



“Today we look at the Obama Administration’s sudden shift in Cuba policy. And sudden it was. Members of Congress were left in the dark.  Most of the Administration – including the State Department – was left in the dark,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).


We’ll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.


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