The first marijuana bill to be officially filed in the new 115th U.S. Congress comes from Barbara Lee of California and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, both Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would protect marijuana businesses that comply with their state laws from federal asset forfeiture laws.
Lee and Blumenauer filed a similar bill in the 114th Congress but it got no traction whatsoever; a similar fate probably awaits this bill as well, but if the attempt is never made success can never be realized.
Civil asset forfeiture is a tactic used by local, state and federal authorities to seize the assets of suspected drug dealers without a conviction or without – in many cases – charges even being filed. It’s one of the many tools used by law enforcement to “fight” the War on Drugs and pad their budgets.
With worry surrounding what the new Trump Administration is going to do in regards to state marijuana laws, it would be smart for pro-marijuana forces in Congress to file as many bills as possible and push as hard as they can for them to show the Executive branch that support does exist in the federal government for cannabis law reform.
One of the ways they are doing that is the creation of the “Cannabis Caucus,” a group of members of Congress that see changing marijuana laws as an important issue. The caucus will help coordinate efforts within the Congress, giving various bills a better chance of being heard and someday passed.
Time will tell how much pressure, if any, federal authorities feel from the voters in states that have legalized cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes, or both. But one thing is for sure: the maximum amount of pressure possible needs to be applied.