A surprising new bipartisan bill surfaced this week, brought forth by a bipartisan team of lawmakers, giving pot supporters a new reason to light up.
Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) introduced H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. The bill would allow states to fully dictate the way they handle both medical and recreational marijuana policy without risk of intervention by the federal government.
Garrett is joined by U.S. Reps Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Scott Taylor (R-Va.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.).
H.R. 1227 would not legalize marijuana at the federal level, but would give each state to decide the drug's legal status within their respective jurisdictions. As the feds prepare to ramp up prohibition enforcement, the bill could ease tensions between states that have already fully legalized pot and federal agencies.
Why would a freshman Republican representative float legislation identical to that proposed by Independent, millennial idol, Bernie Sanders in 2015? Garrett explains that this is a states’ rights and job creation issue, a traditionally Republican argument. In a statement, he argued:
“...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.”
Garrett also argues that “narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status.”
Though on opposite sides of the political aisle, Garrett and Tulsi Gabbard have established a rare bipartisan alliance amidst the current hyper-partisan environment in Washington. Garrett is a co-sponsor of Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608) and Gabbard is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1227.
Gabbard continues to tap into the unique power of being an independent-minded politician. The former DNC vice chair has managed to garner support from across the political spectrum on a variety of issues and with the growing calls for marijuana legalization, she will most likely continue to build political capital.
Previous attempts to legalize or decriminalize marijuana at the federal level have failed. Yet, this bipartisan coalition is challenging the political elite in DC to protect the growing number of states that want to legalize this billion-dollar industry.
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