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Subsequent Senate Judiciary Chair Could Be Open to Marijuana Reform

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Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a longtime ardent marijuana legalization opponent, introduced Nov. 16, 2018, that he’s stepping down as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee so as to take over a separate management place, doubtlessly paving a path ahead for hashish laws within the 116th Congress.

Subsequent in line for the chairmanship of the panel, which performs a central position in drug coverage laws, is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who actually isn’t essentially the most marijuana-friendly member of the Senate however is considerably extra open-minded about medical hashish and different widespread sense reform measures than the present chairman is.

Whereas Grassley has refused to let any marijuana payments come to a vote as Judiciary chairman, Graham has made shock appearances as a co-sponsor of laws to protect legal medical states from federal interference, reschedule hashish and likewise remove cannabidiol (CBD) from the record of federally banned substances.

“Senator Graham chairing Judiciary is one of the best information reformers have heard since Pete Classes misplaced reelection,” Don Murphy, director of federal insurance policies on the Marijuana Policy Project, instructed Marijuana Second, referring to the outgoing Home Guidelines Committee chair who has persistently blocked marijuana laws from votes.

The senator has “proven empathy for sufferers and is a vocal advocate of the Tenth Modification,” Murphy mentioned. Plus, he added, Graham’s relationship with President Donald Trump “additionally bodes nicely for passage” of key marijuana reform laws.

“If I used to be within the trade, I’d be shopping for right this moment.”

In 2015, Graham voted against an modification that will have allowed the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs (VA) to advocate hashish to sufferers; however the subsequent yr he reversed himself and supported an identical proposal to expand access to medical marijuana for veterans.

Additionally in 2016, the South Carolina senator supported an modification to forestall the Division of Justice from spending cash to intervene with state medical hashish legal guidelines.

Graham instructed Politico that very same yr that medical hashish “could possibly be life-changing” and that restrictions on analysis must be lifted.

At a CNN event in 2015 he mentioned that whereas he’s “not an enormous fan of legalizing marijuana,” you’ll be able to “depend me in for medical marijuana” as a result of he’s “satisfied that it helps folks with epilepsy.”

Graham as soon as referred to marijuana as “half as dangerous as alcohol” however added that didn’t “see an actual want for me to alter the legislation up right here.”

Grassley, for his half, did co-sponsor a limited CBD research bill, however that’s about so far as his openness to marijuana reform appears to increase.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about what will be achieved with Senator Graham chairing Judiciary. He’s actually extra open-minded and dynamic in the case of marijuana than Senator Grassley,” Michael Liszewski, principal of the cannabis-focused lobbying outfit The Enact Group, instructed Marijuana Second. “Nevertheless, as a former prosecutor he could possibly be extra insistent that DOJ implement the letter of the prevailing legislation.”

Additionally it is price noting that Graham has not signed onto the present 115th Congress’s model of the far-reaching medical hashish invoice he beforehand co-sponsored, nor has he gotten on board with rising bipartisan calls to extra broadly amend federal marijuana legislation, one thing for which President Trump has voiced support.

“Furthermore, he demonstrated some hyperbolic fears about state medical marijuana packages in a July 2016 subcommittee listening to,” Liszewski mentioned, referring to a discussion on hashish coverage Graham chaired. “However even with all of that, we may have a greater probability to maneuver ahead with laws within the Senate than we had underneath Grassley.”

In all probability, medical hashish laws might be referred to the committee Graham is positioned to run in the course of the subsequent Congress. Payments referred to the Senate Judiciary within the 115th Congress embrace one to end federal marijuana prohibition, one other that will remove CBD from the Managed Substances Act (which Graham co-sponsored) and the CARERS Act (a model of which he beforehand co-sponsored). Grassley didn’t schedule hearings or votes on any of them.

Graham has made clear that marijuana isn’t a prime precedence for him, however his help for medical hashish and his voting file recommend that the Judiciary Committee may turn into far more amenable sending reform payments to the Senate ground underneath his management at a time when advocates are extra optimistic than ever concerning the prospects for federal change. Not less than, extra amenable than it has been underneath Grassley.

And this newest growth, mixed with the truth that Democrats retook the Home, provides to the more and more favorable political panorama that marijuana reform advocates are getting into within the subsequent Congress.

Within the meantime, Graham hasn’t but been formally named as chairman, however he’s subsequent within the line of seniority amongst Republicans on the panel following Grassley’s swap to as an alternative chair the Finance Committee and the retirement of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

“Because the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham may have to select in the case of marijuana,” Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines (NORML) political director Justin Strekal instructed Marijuana Second. “Will he proceed to perpetuate the failed coverage of federal criminalization which resulted in over 659,000 Individuals being handcuffed in 2017 alone, or will he be open to reform in a manner the displays the quickly evolving nature of hashish coverage within the majority of states?”

“Within the 116th Congress, there might be at the very least 66 Senators representing states with a regulated medical hashish program,” Strekal added.

This text has been republished from Marijuana Second underneath a content material syndication settlement. Learn the original article here.

Featured Picture: Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaks in the course of the 2015 Iowa Progress and Alternative Celebration held on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. With Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley set to imagine the Finance Committee chairmanship, Graham would take over as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Marijuana reform advocates imagine Graham might schedule cannabis-friendly payments for votes within the Senate. (Picture by Gage Skidmore by way of Flickr; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)


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