Two Republican Congressmen in the US House of Representatives have tabled a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level in a similar way to alcohol.
The Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Healthcare Professionals bill is sponsored by representatives David Joyce from Ohio and Don Young from Alaska.
The two congressmen are co-chairs of the non-partisan cannabis caucus of Congress, along with Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Barbara Lee of California.
The move would remove marijuana from federal controlled substances law, provide explicit bank protection for the cannabis industry, allow military veterans access to state-legal MJ programs, and expand research.
Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, hailed the Republican-sponsored bill as “promising progress” in federal reform efforts.
In a statement, however, he hoped that future versions of the measure would include “robust social justice provisions and justice to deal with the devastation caused by the ban and the failed war on drugs”.
The US House of Representatives passed such a law in December by 228 votes to 164, which focuses on social justice and includes the Law on Opportunities, Reinvestment and Eradication of Marijuana (MORE).
However, only a handful of Republicans voted for this move, and Joyce wasn’t one.
The new Congress, due in January, has to start over with a view to passing marijuana legislation. The House took the first step in April by adopting cannabis banking reform.
What many in the marijuana industry are waiting for is a long-promised major reform bill being drafted by Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Democratic Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon.