A man is presenting marijuana for medical purposes at a clinic in Massachusetts, Massachusetts, Salem.
Jonathan Wiggs | The globe of Boston | Getty Images
US lawmakers have slated to reform marijuana laws when advocates called a "historic" hearing Wednesday, as many members of Congress said they want to relax federal laws or even legalize marijuana.
"The decriminalization of marijuana is perhaps one of the few issues on which a bipartisan agreement can still be reached during this session," said Representative Tom McClintock, representative of California, adding that "our laws do not must not be perfectly clear and achieve their goals. "
Eleven states have legalized recreational use by adults and a majority of Americans are in favor of legalization. A number of bills on the reform of federal marijuana laws are on the table. The Judiciary Subcommittee of the House on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security sought information on federal law reform at a hearing on Wednesday titled "Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and Racism." need for a reform ".
"There is a growing consensus in this country that current marijuana laws are not appropriate and that we need to consider reform," said Karen Bass, D-Calif. "Today's hearing is the first step in this process."
Despite the optimism, lawmakers did not seem to have a clear consensus on the best approach, for example giving states the right to legalize themselves, to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Act on controlled substances, to legalize it or promote racial equity in marijuana laws.
STATES is one of the most popular cannabis bills. It would amend the Controlled Substances Act and exempt state-approved marijuana activities from federal enforcement.
Proponents say the law would eliminate federal concerns in states where marijuana is legal. Yet some say the bill does not go far enough because it does not solve any racial or social problem.
"We need to reinvest in disproportionately affected people and communities [by marijuana prohibition]Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore State Attorney, told the committee, "The state law does not do that, and that's one of the reasons I oppose it."
Malik Burnett, director of operations for Tribe Companies, a cannabis operator in several states, and former cannabis policy advisor, warned lawmakers that while whites earn money in the growing sector, minorities from other parts of the country are impoverished because of the drug policy. Representatives asked for suggestions on what should be done to combat this.
Representative Matt Gaetz, representative of R-Florida, a co-author of the STATES Act in the House, urged lawmakers to support the bill even if it does not go as far as some would like, claiming that it could be a first step towards legalization.
"What worries me the most is that knowing where to go on some of the restoration elements of our policy could divide our movement," he said.
Justin Strekal, political director of the NORML marijuana advocacy group, congratulated the subcommittee for organizing the hearing.
"Today's day was a historic day in the fight against the criminalization of marijuana by the federal government," he said in a statement. "The members of both political parties have expressed the desire to reform our country with regard to the failure of the policy of prohibition and the only disagreement was how, if not."
However, even though the reform is gaining momentum in the Democracy-controlled House, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to face a tougher battle, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the legalization of marijuana.