Gabbard spoke on the U.S. House floor on Tuesday, urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana and end the war on cannabis. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, H.R. 1227, would take cannabis off the federal controlled substances list, and allow it to join other legal industries such as alcohol and tobacco.Gabbard, who backed Bernie Sanders last year for the Democratic nomination for President, introduced the landmark legislation with cosponsor Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia, an Army veteran and former prosecutor.
The move makes total sense within the context of Rep. Gabbard’s longtime commitment to common sense criminal justice reform.
“Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country,” Congresswoman Gabbard said. “They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges.”
“Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate,” Rep. Gabbard said. “I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform.”“So, rather than actually helping people, our current laws are turning them into criminals, forever impacting their future and the future of their families,” Tulsi said. “Over the years we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars locking people up for nonviolent marijuana offenses, creating strain within our criminal justice system, clogging court calendars and resulting in further overcrowding our prisons.”
“There is growing consensus acknowledging that the effects of marijuana are less harmful than its criminal prohibition, which has increased incarceration rates, divided families, and burdened state governments with the high cost of enforcement, prison and probation,” agreed juvenile justice researcher Karen Umemoto of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.“It’s clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness,” Umemoto said. “Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment.”
“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees,” said Richard Ha, CEO of Las Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on Hawaiʻi Island. “Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings.”“Descheduling cannabis will benefit Hawaiʻi patients by allowing for more rapid research to identify the best medical marijuana strains and dosages for individual medical conditions,” said Brian Goldstein, founder and CEO of Mānoa Botanicals, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary on Oʻahu. “Also, eliminating the barriers to banking will make it easier and safer for Hawaiʻi patients to purchase the medicine they need and eliminate unnecessary expense and complexity for dispensaries.”
Rep. Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform, according to a press release from her Congressional office.
Last month, Gabbard visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.
The Congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.