Cannabis Legislation Wrap Up For 2021 – Cannabis & Hemp

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Over the past 12 months, dozens of cannabis and cannabis-related
bills were introduced to Congress. Some measures were renewed,
others were introduced for the first time; however, each
legislation dealt with a niche aspect of the industry, such as
federal and state legalization, medical cannabis, banking,
descheduling and rescheduling, decriminalization, social justice
and equity, veterans access, minority- and women-owned small
businesses and hemp and CBD. Below is a list and high-level
summary of every federal cannabis bill introduced in 2021.

The SAFE
Banking Act
: On Thursday, March 18, Rep. Ed Perlmutter
(D-CO) reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking
Act. H.R.1996 creates a safe harbor for
financial institutions to provide traditional banking services to
cannabis and cannabis-related businesses in states that have
legalized the drug and also allows cannabis and cannabis-related
businesses to access traditional banking services like lines of
credit, loans and wealth management. The 2021 version of the bill
is almost identical to the text introduced in the previous
congressional session; however, the new legislation includes
provisions that extend to the hemp industry. Although federally
legal, the hemp industry struggles with regulatory guidance and
financial challenges, similar to the cannabis sector. Additional
changes to the text include requiring the Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) to update its guidance for
financial institutions seeking to provide services to cannabis and
cannabis-related businesses and ensure that such changes align with
the SAFE Banking Act. The bill also includes modified language on
state-regulated insurance and redefines the term “financial
service.” Lastly, the new legislation clarifies that a service
provider and a cannabis business do not need to reside in the same
state to engage in legal business activity. The bipartisan bill is
co-led by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Steve Stivers (R-OH)
and Warren Davidson (R-OH), and has more than 150 co-sponsors and
is supported by 33 different financial associations, credit unions,
trade groups and nonprofits. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve
Daines (R-MT) sponsored the Senate companion bill (S.910), which has 40 co-sponsors: 29
Democrats, nine Republicans and two Independents.

Even with its broad support throughout both congressional
chambers, the SAFE Banking Act struggled to advance in the Senate.
After passing in the House as a standalone bill, as part of a
COVID-19 package, and most recently as an amendment in the House
version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the
legislation was unable to overcome its final hurdle in the Senate.
In the end, the latest version of the NDAA did not include the SAFE
Banking Act amendment. Although several letters were sent from
Republican and Democratic senators and House representatives to
include the language, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen.
Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) persistence to propel comprehensive
cannabis reform was too challenging to overcome. Alongside many of
his colleagues, Rep. Perlmutter will continue to seek alternative
pathways to advance the SAFE Banking Act.

The CAOA: On
Wednesday, July 14, Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Finance
Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Booker introduced their
long-awaited cannabis proposal, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act
(CAOA). Although only a draft bill, the 163-page legislation
aims to decriminalize cannabis by removing the drug from the
federal list of controlled substances. Additionally, the
legislation tackles other issue areas related to research, public
safety, restorative justice and equity, taxation and regulation,
public health and industry practices. The measure also includes
language that addresses impaired driving, establishes health and
safety standards under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and
regulates the industry’s practices through the Alcohol and
Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the Department of the
Treasury.

Since its launch, the draft measure has shaken up the industry
and stalled movement for other cannabis reform measures. During a
press conference for the CAOA, the members were
asked about advancing a smaller proposal, one that may resemble the
SAFE Banking Act, and Sen. Schumer said that the banking bill
“does not get done what needs to be done,” and noted that
Americans needed a broad, comprehensive cannabis reform bill.
However, the most notable response was from Sen. Booker, who up in
arms said, &ldquldquo;I do not know about other members in the
Senate, but I will lay myself down and do everything I can to stop
a banking bill that is going to allow all these corporations to
make a lot more money off of this, as opposed to focusing on the
restorative justice aspect.” Sen. Booker’s comments were
not taken lightly by industry, and congressional members who pushed
back on his statement noted that more targeted legislation was not
about making corporations richer but rather about protecting
employees, patients and customers of small businesses. 

The cannabis industry continues to await the release of the
final version of the CAOA.

The HOPE Act:
On Thursday, Dec. 2, Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC) Co-chair
Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
introduced the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement
(HOPE) Act. The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 6129) would help states expunge
cannabis-related offenses by reducing the financial and
administrative burdens through a federal grant program. The federal
grant program, the State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program,
would be funded up to $20 million from FY23-32 and would be
overseen by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The HOPE Act would
permit funding:

  • for technology;
  • for other innovative partnerships to provide widescale relief
    to individuals who are eligible for expungement;
  • to provide cost-effective legal relief for clinics that assist
    individuals through the expungement process;
  • to implement a notification process for those whose records are
    expunged;
  • to publish accessible information regarding the availability
    and status of an expunged record;
  • to automate the process of expunging convictions for cannabis
    offenses; and
  • to seal records of conviction for cannabis offenses, if
    appropriate.

The HOPE Act is endorsed by the U.S. Cannabis Council, NORML,
the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation, the
National Cannabis Roundtable, Last Prisoner Project, the National
Cannabis Industry Association and the Drug Policy Alliance.

The MORE Act:
On May 28, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) introduced the
Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3617). The MORE Act aims to remove
cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), provide
reinvestment opportunities for communities and individuals who have
been adversely and disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs
and expunge nonviolent, federal cannabis-related convictions.
Additionally, the measure would impose a 5% tax on cannabis
products and make Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and
services available to entities that are legitimate cannabis
businesses.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the House Judiciary Committee held a
markup and considered eight amendments and 12 bills, including the
MORE Act. During opening remarks, Rep. Nadler said, “This
long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal
policies criminalizing marijuana. It would also take steps to
address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country,
particularly among communities of color. I have long believed that
the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially
disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse,
with serious consequences, particularly for communities of
color.” He concluded that “whatever one’s views are
on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the
policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal
level has proven unwise and unjust.” Rep. Nadler thanked Reps.
Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer
(D-OR), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for
co-sponsoring the bill and urged his colleagues to vote to pass the
MORE Act.

During the markup, members debated legalization, job creation,
criminal justice reform, social equity grants, incarceration, drug
usage rates and taxes. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said “Americans have the right to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For people smoking marijuana,
it’s part of their pursuit of happiness, yet the war on drugs
has deprived millions of their rights and purposely targeted and
disenfranchised Hispanic, Black and White hippy Americans.” He
urged his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of the measure and
noted that descheduling cannabis, expunging records and reinvesting
in the communities disproportionately impacted by the war of drugs
was a critical step in the right direction. Although most of the
Republican Party spoke out against the bill, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
praised Rep. Nadler for crafting such a comprehensive measure and
said, “I am a proud cosponsor of the MORE Act because the
federal government has screwed up marijuana policy in this
country.” He did, however, express his concerns, alongside
Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), about the
bill’s excise tax provision. Rep. Massie sought to remove the tax provision; however, his
amendment was ruled out of order. No amendment was agreed to or
adopted by the committee, and discussion over the eight amendments
derailed as members got in the weeds about abortion and COVID-19
vaccines. The committee ultimately voted to advance the measure in
a 26-15 vote, with two Republican members voting in favor,
Reps. Gaetz and Tom McClintock (R-CA). The
measure awaits a House floor vote. 

The
States Reform Act
: On Monday, Nov. 15, Rep. Nancy Mace
(R-SC) released her cannabis reform bill, the States Reform Act. H.R. 5977 defers to the rights of states for
the legalization of cannabis and does not require any state to
change or modify its laws on the drug. Additionally, the measure
supports federal decriminalization and the release and expungement
of any nonviolent, cannabis-only conviction. The bill aims to
regulate cannabis like alcohol and requires the FDA, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the TTB, which would be
renamed as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Tax and Trade Bureau,
to release guidelines for medical cannabis and policies for growers
and producers. 

The States Reform Act imposes a 3% federal excise tax, which
would fund law enforcement, small businesses and veteran mental
health initiatives. Rep. Mace also included language to ensure
veterans do not lose their VA health care benefits for cannabis
usage. The legislation protects children and young adults by
preventing nationwide advertisement, funding the Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration and making the sale of
cannabis to minors illegal; and medical cannabis patients by
expanding the list of medical conditions to arthritis, cancer,
sickle cell and HIV/AIDS. More specifically, for the medical
cannabis practice, the bill contains language that ensures the safe
harbor of state medical cannabis programs and patient access,
allows for medical research and the development and production of
medical cannabis products.

The legislation has four Republican co-sponsors, Reps. Tom
McClintock (CA), Don Young (AK), Brian Mast (FL) and Peter Meijer
(MI), and as of Jan. 4 has been referred to the House Agriculture
Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee.

The Cannabidiol and Marihuana
Research Expansion Act
: On Feb. 5, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI)
and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Cannabidiol and Marihuana
Research Expansion Act (S. 253). The bill expands and streamlines
scientific and medical research capabilities for cannabis and its
compounds. The bipartisan legislation has support from Sens. Dick
Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine
(D-VA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Thom
Tillis (R-NC). On Monday, Nov. 1, Sens. Feinstein and Schatz filed
an amendment to the NDAA, which replicated S.253. Although the
senators’ amendment did not get nearly as much attention as the
SAFE Banking amendment, it was also unable to clear the chamber.
Ultimately, the provision was not included in the final NDAA
text. 

In the last congressional session, the bill (S.2032)unanimously passed in the Senate.
However, Senate lawmakers could not agree with House members on
bill language. Instead of advancing Feinstein’s bill, the House
opted to advance the Medical Marijuana Research Act (H.R.3797). Sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer
(D-OR), the legislation aims to reduce the barriers for legitimate
medical cannabis researchers by establishing a new registration
process to facilitate the research. Additionally, the bill would
direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to register
practitioners to conduct medical cannabis research and
manufacturers and distributors to supply cannabis for such
research. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) is required to continue supplying cannabis through the
National Institute on Drug Abuse Drug Supply Program and implement
a specialized process for providing products available through
state-authorized cannabis programs to researchers until
manufacturers and distributors could provide a sufficient supply of
cannabis for medical research.

This legislation was reintroduced by Rep. Blumenauer during the
117th Congress as H.R. 5657. The bill has identical language and
seven co-sponsor, five Democrats and two Republicans, and was
referred to the House Budget Committee, the Judiciary Committee and
the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The
Marijuana Data Collection Act
: On April 29, Sen. Bob
Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S. 1456, the Marijuana Data Collection Act.
Co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the legislation requires
HHS, DOJ, the Department of Labor and relevant state agencies to
partner with the National Academy of Sciences to study the impacts
of recreational and medical cannabis legalization. The bill was
referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee.

Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the
House companion bill (H.R. 3043), which was referred to the House
Education and Labor Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Energy
and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland
Security Subcommittee and the Energy and Commerce Health
Subcommittee.

The CLAIM
Act
: On March 18, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S.862, the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of
Marijuana (CLAIM) Act. The legislation aims to provide a safe
harbor from penalties or other adverse agency action to insurance
companies that provide services to cannabis and cannabis-related
legitimate businesses that operate in states that have legalized
the drug. Additionally, the U.S. Government Accountability Office
must report on barriers to marketplace entry for minority- and
women-owned cannabis businesses. The measure was referred to the
Senate, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and has three
co-sponsors: Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT) and
Rand Paul (R-KY).

The House companion bill (H.R. 2068) was introduced by Rep. Nydia
Velázquez (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers
(R-OH). The measure was referred to the House Financial Service
Committee.

The Drug Policy Reform Act:
In partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Cori Bush (D-MO) introduced the Drug
Policy Reform Act (DPRA) (H.R. 4020). The decriminalization bill aims
to end criminal penalties for drug possession at the federal level,
shift regulatory authority from the DOJ to HHS, specifically making
HHS responsible for classifying drugs, with the intent of moving
toward a more health-centric model. Additionally, the legislation
would expunge existing criminal, nonviolent cannabis-related
records and eliminate many lifelong consequences associated with
drug arrests, personal possession and convictions, including the
denial of employment, public benefits, immigration status,
drivers’ licenses and voting rights. State courts could enforce
the fine; however, it could be waived if an individual cannot
afford it.

The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the
Energy and Commerce Committee, the Oversight and Reform Committee,
the Financial Services Committee, the Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, the Administration Committee, the Armed
Services Committee, the Budget Committee, the Energy and Commerce
Health Subcommittee and the Transportation and Infrastructure
Highways and Transit Subcommittee and has 16 Democratic
co-sponsors. 

The Clean
Slate Act
: On April 27, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced
S. 1380, the Clean Slate Act. The legislation
aims to establish a framework for sealing federal records for
cannabis-related offenses. The Clean Slate Act also requires courts
to automatically seal records related to possession of a controlled
substances conviction or nonviolent cannabis offense and an arrest
for a crime that does not result in a conviction. Lastly, the
measure permits an individual to petition to seal records related
to a conviction for other nonviolent offenses. In a press release, the Sen. Casey noted that more
than one in three Americans have a criminal record, which prevents
them from contributing to the economy. He hopes that S.1380 would
remove housing, employment and education barriers and allow
individuals a second chance to participate in society.

S. 1380 is co-sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and endorsed
by the Center for American Progress, FreedomWorks, Justice Action
Network, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Faith
& Freedom Coalition, JPMorgan Chase, Business Roundtable and
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and was referred to the
Senate Judiciary Committee.

Identical language was introduced in the House by Rep. Lisa
Blunt Rochester (D-DE). H.R.2864 is supported by four Democrats and
four Republicans and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee
and the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
Subcommittee.

The Hemp Access and Consumer
Safety Act
: In conjunction with the Food, Drug and Cosmetics (FD&C) Act, the
FDA will not approve of any dietary ingredient, supplement, food or
beverage that contains hemp-derived cannabidiol (hemp-derived CBD)
and hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substances, despite
Congress’ legalization of the plant in the 2018 Farm Bill. To
avoid industry confusion, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley
(D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S.1698, the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act. The
bill allows hemp-derived CBD products to be used in dietary
supplements, foods and beverages under the FD&C Act,
prioritizes consumer safety by requiring manufacturers to comply
with all existing federal regulations and ensures CBD products are
appropriately labeled.

The legislation is supported by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto
(D-NV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers
of America, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the American Herbal Products
Association and hemp farmers from Oregon and Kentucky. 

The HEMP Act:
Introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the Hemp Economic Mobilization
Plan (HEMP) Act (S. 1005) aims to create
transparency by defining a margin of error in hemp testing and
provide solutions for hemp farmers and processors. Additionally,
the bill would amend the definition of hemp as found in the
Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, adjusting the 0.3% THC
threshold to 1%. Lastly, to prevent legal hemp from being seized
during transport, the measure would require that hemp shipments
contain one or two easily accessible types of documentation.

During a press release, Sen. Paul said, “[the]
legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic
potential, and I am proud the bill has strong support all the way
from local Kentucky farmers and activists to national groups.”
The measure was referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and
Forestry Committee.

The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD
Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act
: Reps.
Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) reintroduced the
Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market
Stabilization Act (H.R. 841)this congressional session. The
bipartisan bill allows for the use of hemp-derived CBD or any other
ingredient derived from hemp in a dietary supplement, provided that
the supplement meets other applicable requirements. The measure has
36 co-sponsors, 23 Democrats and 13 Republicans, and was referred
to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and
Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The Hemp Advancement Act: Rep.
Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will introduce the Hemp Advancement Act. The
bill aims to raise the THC limits for hemp crops and hemp extracts,
eliminate the USDA’s laboratory testing requirement by the DEA
and remove drug-related felonies for individuals seeking to acquire
a hemp license. Rep. Pingree provided an overview of her
legislation on Tuesday, Sept. 28, to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. The
sector continues to await the release of the bill.

The
CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act
: On Dec.
2, Rep. Kathleen Rice
(D-NY) introduced H.R.6134, the CBD Product Safety and
Standardization Act. The legislation aims to establish federal
standards for CBD food and beverage products to protect consumers
and provide marketplace stability for farmers, producers and
retailers. The bipartisan bill has five co-sponsors, three
Democrats and two Republicans, and is endorsed by the Consumer
Brands Association and the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. Since its
introduction, the measure has been referred to the House Energy and
Commerce Committee.

The
Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act
: On Jan. 21,
Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced H.R.430, the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe
Healing Act. The bill aims to prohibit the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) from denying veterans any VA benefit due to
participation in a state-approved cannabis program. Additionally,
the legislation states that for veterans participating in
state-legal cannabis programs, the VA must ensure its health care
providers: discuss cannabis usage, adjust treatment plans
accordingly and record cannabis use in medical records. The
legislation was referred to the House VA Committee and the VA
Health Subcommittee and is co-sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
and Dean Phillips (D-MN).

The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research
Act
: On April 30, Rep. Luis Correa (D-CA) reintroduced
the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act. H.R. 2916 directs the VA secretary to
facilitate a series of clinical trials on the effects of cannabis,
specifically researching adverse health outcomes for veterans with
chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The
legislation was co-led by Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) and referred to
the House VA Committee.

The Senate companion bill (S. 1467) was introduced to the chamber by
Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). Although the 2019
bill, S.179, was well supported, Tester updated the
legislation’s language. In addition to directing the secretary
of VA to carry out a series of clinical trials on the health
effects cannabis can have on veterans who suffer from chronic pain
and PTSD, the bill required the VA to investigate different
components of PTSD and pain management. In addition to requesting
that THC to CBD ratios be studied, the legislation calls for a
research plan to be formed within 180 days of the bill’s
passage. Lastly, annual reports must be provided to the House and
Senate VA committees.

The
Common Sense Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Medical
Professionals Act
: On Nov. 9, Republican Congressional
Cannabis Caucus (CCC) Co-chairs David Joyce (R-OH) and Don Young
introduced the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small
Businesses and Medical Professionals Act (H.R. 3105). The legislation aims to
responsibly reform the federal government’s ineffective
cannabis policy and protect the state’s rights. In non-cannabis
legal states, the bill would also remove cannabis from the CSA,
allow the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans and create a
safe harbor for financial institutions and other businesses. If
enacted, the measure also calls for the FDA and the TTB to develop
a regulatory framework modeled after the alcohol industry and
directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct two studies
focusing on pain management and cannabis impairment.

The U.S. Cannabis Council, the National Medicinal Cannabis
Coalition and the National Cannabis Roundtable support the
legislation.

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe
Harbor Act
: On April 15, Congressional Cannabis Caucus
(CCC) Co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R.2588, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe
Harbor Act. The legislation would provide and implement
guidance for veterans on medical cannabis. H.R. 2588 would also
authorize, in compliance with state and tribal laws, veterans to
use, possess or transport medical cannabis and for VA physicians
and health care providers to discuss, recommend, complete forms for
and register veterans to participate in a medical cannabis
program.

Lastly, the bill requires the VA to report on the impacts of
medical cannabis on veterans’ pain and the relationship between
state-approved medical cannabis treatment programs, program access
and opioid use and abuse reduction. Rep. Lee’s bill has 17
co-sponsors, 12 Democrats and five Republicans, and was referred to
the House VA Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and
Commerce Committee, the VA Health Subcommittee, the Judiciary
Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and the Energy
and Commerce Health Subcommittee. 

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Senate companion
bill (S. 1183). The legislation has eight
co-sponsors, seven Democrats and one Independent, and was referred
to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The
Veterans CARE Act
: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)
introduced the Veterans Cannabis Analysis, Research, and
Effectiveness (CARE) Act (H.R. 2932). The bill requires the VA to
conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of cannabis
and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care
system and diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or PTSD.
The legislation has two Republican co-sponsors, Reps. Nancy Mace
(SC) and Peter Meijer (MI), and was referred to the House VA
Committee and the House VA Health Subcommittee.

The Fully Informed Veteran
Act
: The Fully Informed Veteran Act was introduced on May
28 by Rep. Connor Lamb (D-PA). H.R. 3601 requires the VA to authorize VA
physicians and health care providers permission to educate veterans
on participating in state-legal cannabis programs. The bill also
states that the term “state” includes the District of
Columbia, federally recognized tribes and U.S. territories. The
legislation was referred to the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the VA Committee, the Energy
and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the VA Health
Subcommittee.

The Marijuana
1-to-3 Act
: Rep. Steube introduced H.R. 365, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act on Jan. 19.
The bill directs the DEA to reschedule cannabis from schedule I to
schedule III on the CSA. The legislation was referred to the House
Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the
Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and
the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The Destigmatizing in
Immigration Act
: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) introduced
legislation to remove various immigration penalties related to
cannabis. The measure notes that any cannabis-related use,
possession or distribution offense would not prevent an alien from
admission into the U.S., remove an alien from the U.S. or find that
an alien lacks good moral character for immigration purposes. The
bill would also ensure that any previously barred or deported alien
would be readmitted into the country. Lastly, H.R.1614 would not constitute the distribution
of cannabis as an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. The
measure has five Democratic co-sponsors: Reps. Earl Blumenauer
(OR), Barbara Lee (CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Nydia
Velázquez (NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The
Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act
: On May
13, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced H.R. 3212, the Marijuana in Federally Assisted
Housing Parity Act. In compliance with state law, the
legislation ensures that individuals are not denied federally
assisted housing for cannabis use and prohibits the Department of
Housing and Urban Development from discouraging cannabis use in
federally assisted housing. The measure was referred to the House
Financial Services Committee.

The Home
Grown Act
: Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) reintroduced the Home
Grown Act. H.R. 2649 aims to decriminalize cannabis,
remove cannabis from the CSA and establish an “Equitable
Licensing Grant Program” in the SBA. Additionally, the
legislation would fund social justice programs to help individuals
negatively impacted by the war on drugs enter the cannabis
industry. The legislation was referred to the House Small Business
Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary
Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Agriculture
Committee.

The Ensuring Access to
Counseling and Training for All Small Businesses Act
: On
April 19, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) introduced H.R. 2652, the Ensuring Access to Counseling
and Training for All Small Businesses Act. The measure aims to
ensure that particular Small Business Administration (SBA)
entrepreneurial development services are made available to
cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers. The
bill was referred to the House Small Business Committee.

The
Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act
:
On April 20, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) reintroduced the
Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act (H.R. 2712). The bill
aims to ensure that certain SBA loan programs are made available to
cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers. The
bill has five Democratic co-sponsors and was referred to the House
Small Business Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the
Judiciary Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the
Agriculture Committee.

The Gun Rights And
Marijuana Act
: On April 23, Congressional Cannabis
Caucus Co-chair Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Gun
Rights And Marijuana (GRAM) Act (H.R. 2830). Co-led by Republican Reps. Brian
Mast (FL) and Rodney Davis (IL), the bill aims to secure the Second
Amendment right of Americans living in states and tribes with legal
recreational and medical cannabis laws and defends a
jurisdiction’s Tenth Amendment right to set their own cannabis
policy. 

The Safe
Driving Vehicles Act
: On May 13, Rep. Kelly Armstrong
(R-ND) introduced H.R. 3177, the Safe Driving Vehicles Act. The
bill would direct the secretary of transportation to develop
educational programs and resources and carry out annual education
campaigns to inform the public about the health and safety risks of
impaired driving. Additionally, the legislation included language
that would prevent “driving while under the influence of
alcohol or drugs, including marijuana and opioids.” The bill
was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee.

Student Athlete Level Playing Field
Act
: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) introduced the
Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act (H.R. 2841). The bill would grant student
athletes the right to capitalize off their name, image and likeness
(NIL). The legislation would also establish one federal NIL
standard that safeguards the rights of students nationwide and
protects the recruitment process, preserving the college athletics
system. Additionally, the measure would provide congressional
oversight and protect the recruitment process.

The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce
Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, the Energy and
Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee and has nine
co-sponsors, five Democrats and four Republicans.

The STARTER Act
2.0
: On May 20, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H.R. 3341, the STARTER Act 2.0. The measure
would authorize funds for federal-aid highways and highway safety
and transit programs. Under Section 4002, Highway Safety Research
and Development, the text reads, “The Administrator of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall carry out a
collaborative research effort to study the effect that marijuana
use has on driving and research ways to detect and reduce
incidences of driving under the influence of marijuana.” The
bill has 36 Republican co-sponsors and was referred to the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Welfare for Needs not Weed
Act
: On July 19, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) introduced H.R.4536, the Welfare for Needs Not Weed
Act. The legislation prohibits the use of Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) electronic funds in any
establishment that sells cannabis. TANF is a federal program that
supplies grant funds to states and U.S. territories to provide
families with financial assistance and related support services
such as child care assistance, job preparation and work
assistance.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and was
referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Ways and
Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee.

The Drug-Impaired Driving
Education Act
: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) introduced the
Drug-Impaired Driving Education Act (H.R.3675) on June 1. The legislation
requires the Department of Transportation to provide competitive
grants to states to educate the public on the health and safety
risk of drug-impaired driving. Additionally, states can use the
grant to fund local government agencies, tribal governments and
nonprofits to educate the public on the dangers of impaired
driving. Educational information and programing must use specific
evidence and strategies, including those recommended by the 2019
Congressional Research Service, Marijuana Use and Highway
Safety publication.

The measure was co-sponsored by Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and
referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
and the The Impaired Driving Study
Act
:Transportation and Infrastructure Highways and Transit
Subcommittee.

On May 14, Rep. Debbie
Lesko (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 3253, the Impaired Driving Study Act. The
bill directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to
conduct a study to improve motor vehicle safety and address
impaired driving for alcohol, cannabis and opioids. H.R. 3253 was
co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and referred to the
House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Commerce
Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee.

INVEST in America Act: On
Wednesday, June 9, the House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee marked up H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the
Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act.
Sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the $547 billion
reauthorization bill reforms federal transportation policy,
modernizes the nation’s existing roads and bridges and invests
in passenger rail and public transit, cycling and walking
infrastructure, and zero-emission options. The transit bill also
contains cannabis language in Sec. 24102, Highway Safety Programs
and Sec. 25026, Report on Marijuana Research.

Sec. 24102 encourages states that have legalized medical or
recreational cannabis to consider programs that educate drivers on
the risks associated with cannabis-impaired driving and aim to
reduce injuries and deaths resulting from individuals driving motor
vehicles while impaired. Sec. 25026 requires the secretary of
transportation, in consultation with the attorney general and the
secretary of HHS, to submit to the House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on
Commerce, Science and Transportation a report on:

  • Increasing and improving access to retailed cannabis for
    scientific researchers studying impairment while driving;
  • Establishing a national clearinghouse to collect and distribute
    samples and strains of cannabis for scientific research;
  • Facilitating access for scientific researchers located in
    states that have not legalized cannabis for medical or recreational
    use; and
  • Identifying federal statutory and regulatory barriers for
    conducting scientific research and developing a national
    clearinghouse for cannabis-impaired driving research.

The report must be submitted no later than two years after
enactment and will be made publicly available on the U.S.
Department of Transportation’s website. 

During the markup, members debated dozens of amendments, excluding the cannabis amendments.
The manager’s and substitute amendment, offered by Chair Peter
DeFazio (D-OR), and three Democratic amendments were adopted by
voice vote. The Democratic members who sponsored adopted amendments
were Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA), Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Chuy Garcia
(D-IL). Republican amendments offered by Reps. Pete Stauber (R-MN)
and Garret Graves (R-LA) were also adopted by voice vote, in
addition to an amendment introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX). The
INVEST in America Act was favorably reported to the full chamber on
a 38 to 26 vote. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-NY) and Resident
Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) were the
sole Republicans to vote for the amended legislation.

The bill advanced out of committee on June 10, on a 38 to 26
vote and out of the House on July 7, on a 221 to 201 vote. The measure was delivered to the Senate,
where after extensive deliberation, the chamber passed the bill on
a 69 to 30 vote, with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) not voting.
The measure was sent back to the House for a final vote, where it
passed on a 228 to 205 vote. On Nov. 8, the INVEST in America Act was
sent to President Biden’s desk for his signature, and on Nov.
15, the bill became law. 

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