A Republican and a Democrat are joining forces to create a Cannabis Caucus in 2017. The caucus is intended to increase the likelihood of passing federal marijuana reform initiatives. Republican Dana Rohrabacher of California and Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are the heads of the caucus.
Meetings for the caucus are expected to begin in January, according to Decode DC. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, is expected to become the spokesperson for the caucus. Members of Congress that deem marijuana reform as an important issue will be part of the caucus.
Rohrabacher said, “There needs to be more strategy between us, those of us who are engaged in this. More of a long-term strategy. [And] we need to have a vehicle in which people on the outside will be able to work through and sort of have a team effort from the inside and the outside.”
Rohrabacher also said, “We want to make the states’ rights issue the core of what we are doing. Republicans don’t see this as something that their constituents want and they may not be positive towards legalization of marijuana. But with the states’ rights issue, that’s how we’ve won the necessary votes from the Republican side in order to win the battle.”
Rohrabacher introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015. He’s admitted to using marijuana to relieve arthritis pain. Blumenauer is also an advocate for legal marijuana as he did visit several states with ballot measures to help them pass.
The pair of lawmakers have advocated for other bills, such as the Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2016 and the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015.
Blumenauer said, “We’ve had the movement crest. Two hundred and fifty million people have access to medical marijuana, a quarter of the population has access to adult use. We’re watching an industry now where 60-percent believe marijuana should be legalized, and public opinion mirrors what happened at the ballot box.”
Blumenauer also said, “People who have been ambivalent about this before, all of a sudden just inherited constituents who care deeply about it. Florida just passed an initiative for medical marijuana which makes it the second largest marijuana market in the United States. All of a sudden there are lots of legislators who just had their constituents vote more strongly for marijuana than they did for them.”