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Federal bipartisan bill would put legal cannabis question to voters

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Federal bipartisan bill would put legal cannabis question to voters

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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On March 7, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced what they described as a “landmark” chunk of legislation; namely the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.

It is “the only bipartisan piece of legislation that would allow states to make independent choices about their [cannabis] programs,” according to Young. Even prior to the introduction of Gabbard and Young’s Bipartisan bill, many cannabis supporters have felt optimistic that 2019 will be the year of cannabis.

They have good reason to believe this since more Americans support cannabis legalization than ever before. Moreover, a growing number of Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for cannabis reform.

During a recent press conference, Gabbard announced she would eradicate cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances list. A candidate for the 2020 presidential election, Gabbard also touched upon the fact that the bill would enable states to enact their own laws to regulate weed.

“We’ve seen now for generations how our archaic [cannabis] policies based on outdated myths and misplaced stigma have been used to wage a failed war on drugs,” explained Gabbard. “We’ve seen the impact on families torn apart, communities left fractured, and the over-criminalization and mass incarceration that has become the norm, making an impact on the people in our communities as well as the taxpayer dollars being spent on this broken criminal justice system.”

Young made a point of focusing on the punishments that cannabis businesses face under federal drug laws, many of which are currently restricted from obtaining a loan or even opening a bank account.

“As businessmen, the biggest challenge they have is not being able to bank,” said Gabbard. “This bill takes care of it.”

Gabbard also emphasized that the bill would allow individual states to “make the decisions [regarding marijuana industry regulation] for the people.”

“This bill is long overdue. This is a bill that solves a problem,” he added. “Get the government out of it.”

Another bill was also introduced by the duo, with the second one titled the “Marijuana Data Collection Act” – a bill that highlights the implications of cannabis legalization policies on public health and the economy.

“This bill will allow us the opportunity to make sure we are governed by the truth and facts and not misinformation and lies,” Gabbard said.

At the current time, 10 U.S. States and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Meanwhile, over 30 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Notwithstanding, cannabis-related arrests are still occurring on a colossal scale, with almost 659,700 felons arrested in 2017 alone.

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Federal bipartisan bill would put legal cannabis question to voters