In 1973, Oregon led the nation as the first state to decriminalize cannabis. We have continued to lead on this crucial issue for the subsequent 50 years, and it is past time for the federal government to catch up.
We made important progress last year. The House of Representatives passed my MORE Act, the gold standard of cannabis reform. In July, my friends Senators Schumer, Wyden, and Booker introduced the Senate’s first comprehensive reform package. In December, my Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act became the first standalone federal cannabis reform signed into law since 1970. This legislation will help get the federal government out of the way of researchers studying the impacts and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Critically, it will help us finally develop an accurate test for impairment.
Then there are the historic actions by the Biden-Harris Administration. In October, President Biden announced he would pardon non-violent cannabis offenders, spurring several states, including Oregon to follow suit. No president has stepped forward to pardon low-level marijuana offenders at this scale before.
At the same time, President Biden directed his administration to review the scheduling of cannabis. Cannabis was classified in 1971 as a Schedule I substance out of stigma, not science. I have repeatedly urged the Administration to deschedule marijuana completely. I will continue working to ensure this decision is based on the evidence available, not outdated views of cannabis and that the public can be fully informed of this process.
I am also leading bipartisan, commonsense reforms that can pass in a divided Congress. I am working to pass the SAFE Banking Act, critically overdue legislation to finally allow state-legal cannabis operations access banking services. The absence of this legislation creates dangerous conditions for cannabis workers and small businesses. Last month, I introduced legislation to ensure our veterans have equal access to medical marijuana as their civilian counterparts. And earlier this week, I introduced legislation to allow state-legal cannabis businesses to take common tax deductions associated with running a business.
One thing is clear: the American public is not waiting. States are not waiting. Today, 38 states and the District of Columbia and multiple U.S. territories have legalized medical marijuana, and 21 states have approved adult use. After 50 years of our nation living with the tragic, disastrous consequences of the failed war on drugs, it is past time for the federal government to catch up.
This 4/20, I am celebrating the progress we have made together and am energized by the work ahead.
Member of Congress