Since last February, when a bipartisan group of legislators launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, lawmakers have filed a flurry of bills aimed at reforming federal drug laws. Here’s a look at some of that legislation:
Marijuana Justice Act of 2017
Introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in August, the Marijuana Justice Act is the most buzzed-about cannabis legislation announced this year. It would remove cannabis completely from the Controlled Substances Act, which now has it in Schedule I, prohibiting any medical use. The bill’s criminal-justice reform measures include expunging marijuana-possession convictions and restricting federal funds for states that have disproportionate arrest rates for cannabis offenses. It would also establish a “Community Reinvestment Fund” that would provide grants for job training, expunging criminal records, and community centers. Several other bills, including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, would also deschedule cannabis, but none go as far as Booker’s to remedy the injustices caused by the War on Drugs.
Status: Referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Veterans Equal Access Act
The Veterans Administration prohibits its doctors from talking to patients about medical marijuana, even in states where it’s legal . The Veterans Equal Access Act, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in March, directs the VA to allow its doctors to recommend cannabis to veterans in those states.
Status: Currently in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s health subcommittee.
Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017
Long before any state legalized marijuana, a Minneapolis drug dealer tried to deduct business expenses on his 1974 tax return. (He was somewhat successful.) The result: Section 280E, a tax-code amendment enacted in 1982 that prohibits illegal-drug dealers from taking business deductions—which denies companies in the cannabis industry the ability to take basic business deductions. The Small Business Tax Equity