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Congressional Committee's Cannabis Legalization Hearing: Advocates Have Their Say And Answer Questions

Benzinga · 11/15/2022 14:52

Tuesday’s congressional hearings to discuss federal cannabis legalization included testimony from advocates such as Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin, deputy director of NORML Paul Armentano and Eric Goepel, founder and CEO of Veterans Cannabis Coalition (VCC) and others.

The panel laid out three main issues up for discussion: a.) decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, b.) reforms including criminal justice to include expungement of non-violent cannabis convictions and access to banking opportunities and c.) a federal government mandate to regulate cannabis like alcohol.

The House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which issued a joint memo laying out the discussion topics introduced chairman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Nancy Mace (R-SC). 

“Cannabis must be decriminalized at the federal level as a matter of basic justice in the country and, I would say, to vindicate the anti-prohibition principle that’s in our Constitution,” Raskin said in his opening remarks. “The war against marijuana has ruined so many lives in our country. We can do a lot better by treating all of these as public health questions and regulatory questions rather than questions of crime and putting people behind bars.”

Rep. Mace then gave her statement in which she noted that the issue is not only political for her but personal as well. She told the floor her story of having been raped as a teenager and how, after therapy and pharmaceutical drugs, she finally found that cannabis helped her treat the anxiety and trauma caused by the horrible experience.

“It cut my anxiety. I was able to sleep better. And I stayed alive,” Mace said. “If I can make it, anybody can, and this plant literally saved my life. I don’t know where I would be today had I not had that kind of experience that I can share with millions of Americans today. The only place that cannabis is really controversial today is here on the Capitol.”

Look here for an exclusive Benzinga interview with Rep. Mace.

 

As the panel discussed legalization, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talked about President Biden’s cannabis pardons for federal prisoners.

“While the spirit of this executive order should absolutely be applauded, I do believe that issue experts have rightly pointed out that there is necessary action needed from Congress and state governments to actually fulfill the true impact and live up to the spirit of that order,” AOC said.

The joint memo, reported Marijuana Moment, regarding the hearing mentioned legalization measures such as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, approved by the House in April of this year and Rep. Mace’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) and Mace’s States Reform Act (SRA), which garnered much excitement when it was introduced last November.

See more information and developments HERE and watch live moments of the hearing.