Donald Trump

GOP Rep. Thomas Garrett Intros Bill To End Federal Pot Prohibition

Legislation would remove marijuana from controlled-substances list and give states the ability to set their own policy.


House of Representatives, Wikimedia

Rep. Thomas Garrett is a freshman Republican congressman who represents Virginia's 5th district. But being a newbie from a socially conservative area isn't stopping him from going big and bold right out of the chute: He has just introduced a bill called the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017." From his office:

If passed, this bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco.

Originally introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015, this bill fulfills a responsibility to create a level playing field across the country….

"This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia. In the coming weeks, I anticipate introducing legislation aimed at growing the hemp industry in Virginia, something that is long overdue."

More here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is the Democratic co-sponsor in the House. Sanders' Senate legislation died when it was introduced a couple of years ago but now fully eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot.

Back in 2011, Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to remove federal controls on marijuana, so the idea isn't new (though it's long overdue). But in the face of growing indications that the Trump administration, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are bent on waging a new war on pot, Garrett's move is encouraging.

The federal government's classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act has always been stupid. A Schedule I drug is one that supposedly has no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, and cannot be used safely even under a doctor's supervision. Under federal law, pot is more restricted than cocaine, methamphetmanie, morphine, and PCP. That makes no sense.

Lest we forget, pot is the lynchpin of the war on drugs since it is the only "illicit" drug (to use government jargon) that people use widely and regularly. Marijuana-related arrests comprised more than 40 percent of drug arrests in a given year, with over 700,000 people arrested in 2014 on pot-related charges, with the vast majority being for simple possession. So even as most jurisdictions have decriminalized and de-emphasized marijuana enforcement, it remains a major way by which law enforcement interacts with citizens. You get rid of pot laws, you get rid of a lot of over-policing.

At various points during his campaign for president, Donald Trump signaled a hands-off approach to states that had legalized medical or recreational pot. That makes perfect sense coming from a Republican, as the party is constantly invoking states as "laboratories of democracy." Recent surveys show that even though only 35 percent of Republicans favor legalization, 55 percent oppose federal law enforcement interfering in states that have legalized weed. And yet as Reason's Jacob Sullum has noted, Jeff Sessions, a former senator from Alabama who regularly called for devolving power from Washington to statehouses, always makes an exception for pot.

In last night's address, President Trump confounded traditional party lines by, for example, calling for paid family leave and expanded funding for child care. While the Democrats typically have been just as bad as Republicans on the drug war, if Trump embraced federalism in this case, he would even further blur traditional lines between liberal and conservative. Here's hoping on this issue—as opposed to, say, boondoggle transportation "stimulus" projects or tax-funded family leave plans—he comes out as the first president to turn marijuana policy over to the states, where it has always belonged.

Related: "3 Reasons To Legalize Pot Now!"

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  1. Good news, though like all those before it, it probably will fail spectacularly.

    1. It’s an awesome idea so no doubt most everyone in Washington will be against it.

      1. “Won’t someone think of the children police and prison guard unions and other special interests!”

        1. And come to think of it, the children too.

  2. Nixon to China!

  3. Here’s hoping… he comes out as the first president to turn marijuana policy over to the states individuals, where it has always belonged.

    1. FTFY

      1. My Body My Choice, except when the state thinks it knows better.

        1. Good point! Let’s make this about sexism. A woman has the constitutional right to choose to stop a beating heart, and a man can’t even choose what to put into his lungs/stomach. Discrimination on the basis of sex.

  4. Trump isn’t a conservative, so there are no lines to blur.

  5. I’m not optimistic about this passing, but I hope it at least gets to a vote so we can see perfectly clearly where everyone lies on this issue.

  6. Also, does this bill differ from Dana Rohrabacher’s bill?

  7. Even with Sessions, I can see somebody else talking to Trump and convincing him to done down the anti-marijuana thing. It is indeed a mystery, though. We simply have no idea. I do think there is enough bipartisan support in Congress to pass this if it ever gets to vote, and that would take it out of Trump’s hands altogether, which would be nice.

    1. I can see it passing the House, but I don’t think it gets by the Senate. Especially if the prohibition side filibusters.

    2. I do think there is enough bipartisan support in Congress to pass this if it ever gets to vote, and that would take it out of Trump’s hands altogether

      He would still have to sign it. Question is will he do what he claimed he would do on the campaign trail, or would Sessions bend his ear and convince him to veto it? I doubt it will have enough support to override a veto.

      Still, as you say, it would be nice to see – once and for all – where everyone in Congress stands, and also have some clarity on where Trump stands.

  8. Would be nice but dont see it going anywhere. Can potus do it via order?

    1. I know Obama’s DEA in August had the opportunity to remove cannibis from Schedule 1 and failed to do so. I assume Trump’s DEA could do the same. Although, whether the president himself can do that (as opposed to just arm-twisting the head of the DEA, although those may be functionally similar) I’m not entirely certain.

      1. That should be *cannabis, not cannibis :/

        1. “That should be *cannabis, not cannibis :/”

          Thank goodness you corrected that misspelling or I would have had no choice but to shame you and dismiss anything you were to say in the future and made sure everyone else knew to do so as well. You so rightly understood that the very essence of your credibility and intellect were on the line.

          Sarc off. Fuck you, grammar nazis as you are as bad as any PC douche.

          1. Spelling isn’t grammar.

            (“Deal with it!”)

          2. I also wouldn’t call myself a grammar nazi or spelling nazi. I never point out other people’s mistakes.

  9. I don’t know what will happen in Congress but During campaign, Trump pledged to leave marijuana legalization up to states. And if we are going by his actions so far, he’s stayed pretty much right to the script in terms of what he promised to do when campaigning.

    1. Yeah, Donald has a pretty good track record for keeping his campaign promises. Sessions being a fuckface and Spicer talking out of his ass doesn’t necessarily change that.

      1. I hope your both right. But I have a suspicion that you’re both going to be disappointed. Unless of course Rick Perry and Peter Thiel are able to convince him that Sessions is wrong.

  10. Excellent (he’s muh Congressperson).

    1. Mine just introduced his first bill which would have DHS scan the social networks of all visa applicants coming into the country. So… there?

  11. Trump could make the same thing happen without signing a controversial bill, so why would he sign a controversial bill and potentially alienate conservative voters in midwestern swing states?

    If he’d ran on this issue, maybe it would be different.

    1. Why? To counter the assertions that he is an authoritarian. Also, to stay in keeping with his long ago expressed view that the drug war was wrong. I’m sure there are more reasons. I saw a headline that Iowa is already pissed at him. Fuck Iowans and those corn subsidy sluts.

      1. Corn Subsidy Sluts

        Nice porn title.

        1. Nice porn title.

          I hope there’s a sequel, The first left a lot of loose ends…

          Corn Subsidy Sluts

          Also, good all female rock band name.

  12. Finally.

  13. This has zero chace of passing. But it’s definitely worth watching if it actually makes it to a vote. The interesting part will be to see where any yeah votes come from, and from which side of the aisle.

    1. I’ll definitely make a note as to which way my congresscritters vote and remember it come re-election time.

      1. I’m sure your vote, or lack thereof, will be felt.

        1. Why so cynical?

        2. I don’t give 2 shits if it’s felt or not. I’ll vote for who I feel is best suited (including not voting if I don’t like any of my options) and let the chips fall where they will.

          And if the person I vote for loses, I won’t be bitching and whining about it until the next election. Nor will I be celebrating if the person I vote for wins because in all likelihood whoever it is is only going to end up disappointing me later (unless it’s NOTA). Instead, I’ll simply get on with my life.

  14. He has just introduced a bill called the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.”

    I’m not voting for a bill with such a pedestrian name. It can’t even be made into an acronym worth a damn.

  15. From a “socially conservative” district in Virginia. Well, that definitely gives me some hope. Hopefully he wins re-election next year, because I highly doubt this will pass this year. And if by some miracle it made it through both chambers I think it would be vetoed by Trump. Sessions and the other prohibitionists will characterize the bill as an attempt to legalize nationally.

    Unfortunately the name alone plays to that characterization “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” They needed to name it something giving the bill sufficient connection states’ right, which would give cover to any vulnerable congressmen and Senators. What this guy needs is an experienced hand who knows how to get legislation passed, also a companion bill in the Senate that sounds less radical, but does the same thing.

  16. The best we could hope for is that pot is legalized for *intrastate* commerce. Interstate, or international “trafficking” will remain illegal.

  17. While the Democrats typically have been just as bad as Republicans on the drug war

    Too little, too late, cuck

  18. I think they are going on about this the wrong way.

    It would be more helpful, I think, to just have a bill that says that since the Constitution requires that full faith and credit be given legal proceedings in one state by the other states, that the full faith and credit should also be incumbent on the Federal Government.

    Get the leftists to get behind this for their pot legalization… then hit them with the EXACT SAME thing for CCW licenses.

  19. You might want to check if one of Sessions big donors is with the timber industry. Then you would understand why he is so against pot

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