3 New Cannabis Bills on Trade, Deportation and Research Hit Congress This Week
Several pieces of cannabis reform legislation were filed in Congress earlier this week that would drastically improve the state of national cannabis laws in the US.
Interstate Cannabis Trade
The first bill was filed by the Oregon Democrats, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Their legislation concerns the interstate transport of cannabis which is currently prohibited by federal law. Even moving cannabis between two legal states could see you hit with federal drug trafficking charges. While the law is ostensibly intended to prevent drug dealers from moving illegal drugs across the country, it also make it incredibly difficult for legal cannabis producers to sell their products in multiple states.
Under Wyden and Blumenauer’s bill, these interstate transportation restrictions would be lifted for states that have legal cannabis markets.
The introduction of the bill follows the passing of a similar one on the state level in Oregon. Earlier this month, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill that would allow legal cannabis producers in the state to sell their products to legal cannabis retailers in other states. However, the Oregon legislation remains largely symbolic until federal regulations actually allow cannabis to be shipped across state lines.
Cannabis and Citizenship
2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D‑NJ) headed up the second piece of federal cannabis legislation filed on Thursday. Under his new bill, legal immigrants could no longer be denied citizenship or deported over cannabis us or cannabis-related activities.
Currently, immigrants may face deportation for the possession or consumption of cannabis even in states where the substance is otherwise legal; they could also be denied citizenship for simply working in the legal cannabis industry.
If passed, Booker’s legislation would also allow immigrants who were previously denied visas based on cannabis-related circumstances to reapply, and make individuals who were deported for cannabis eligible for re-admittance.
The final bill is a bipartisan piece of legislation that would streamline the process researchers have to go through in order to be cleared to study cannabis. The focus would be on improving the ability for researchers to develop cannabis-derived medications. The bill would also expand the number of federally licensed cultivators of research-grade cannabis.
Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only facility approved by the federal government to grow cannabis for research purposes. Researchers have long criticized the site for producing cannabis of subpar quality that is not comparable to what the average consumer has access to. Allowing more facilities to grow federally-approved research cannabis would hopefully both increase available supply and quality of the product.
These bills join a number of other particularity strong and wide-reaching bills seeking to liberalize federal drug policies. As the 2020 election approaches, it seems increasingly clear that national cannabis reform is closer than it’s ever been.