Major Congressional Subcommittee Holds Historic Hearing to Discuss Ending Cannabis Prohibition

Jul 10, 2019


* Statements below from Steve Hawkins and Don Murphy of the Marijuana Policy Project and Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association *

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee held a hearing today to discuss various legislative proposals to allow states to set their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference. Titled "Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform," the hearing was the first in congressional history to explore the prospect of ending federal cannabis prohibition.

"Two-thirds of all the states have now adopted legalization or medical cannabis policies, and it's time for Congress to finally address the conflicts between state and federal law," said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a political organization that has played a central role in enacting over half of these state-level policies. "This hearing, which recognizes the racist effects of prohibition, is a positive step forward, and we hope it serves as a starting point for real legislative action this year."

The hearing is expected to lay the groundwork for future legislative markups by the full House Judiciary Committee on legislation such as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act), the Marijuana Justice Act, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, and the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Statement from Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project:

"Not since the days of Harry Anslinger has cannabis been such a serious topic on Capitol Hill. With bipartisan support in both chambers, there is no good reason why Congress cannot address this issue before the 2020 election."

Statement from Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association:

"State cannabis programs are successfully replacing criminal markets with well regulated businesses across the country and public support for ending prohibition continues to rise. It's long past time for Congress to align federal policies with modern state marijuana laws and public opinion by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that we can begin the process of developing federal policies that will not only respect state laws, but will defend public health and safety, protect small businesses, and help repair the damage prohibition policies have inflicted on communities of color."

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