Two states – Colorado and Washington – already allow legal recreational use, while 20 more permit its use for medical reasons, and more than 10 states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form over the next few years.
“There’s no question that we’re likely to see another state or two this year legalizing (recreational) use,” Blumenauer said. “We’re going to see more medical marijuana progress. The crazy prohibitions on bank services and probably the tax disparities – these are all eroding.”
However, the federal government continues to prohibit the growth or use of marijuana and hemp, classifying it as a Schedule I substance alongside heroin and LSD.
“Part of what is going on with the hemp discussion is that people are seeing through the nonsense that somehow this is cover for surreptitious marijuana production, conflating industrial hemp with marijuana,” Blumenauer said. “Throughout the whole marijuana issue debate, there are numerous flat-out falsehoods. Schedule I drug? No therapeutic use? Worse than cocaine and meth? I mean, wait a minute.”
Blumenauer hammered the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during a February meeting of the House Oversight Committee, demanding the official identify whether marijuana was more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or methamphetamines.
Michael Botticelli, the drug czar’s chief deputy, conceded some drugs were more toxic than others, but he accused the lawmaker of minimizing the harm caused by illegal drugs.
“Let me just say that your equivocation right there, being unable to answer something clearly and definitively when there is unquestioned evidence to the contrary, is why young people don’t believe the propaganda, why they think it’s benign,” Blumenauer said.
The Oregon Democrat has sponsored three bills — States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection (H.R. 689), Marijuana Tax Equity Act (H.R. 501), and the Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R. 2240) – and has supported other measures to ease restrictions on making access for legal marijuana businesses and even the complete end to federal marijuana prohibition.
President Barack Obama, who said earlier this year that marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol, signed the Farm Bill allowing legalized hemp production for research purposes in the 12 states that permit its growth.
“The hemp one, that was so blatant and so obvious,” Blumenauer said. “That is what’s changing the whole marijuana landscape, is that all the falsehoods, misrepresentations and misclassification that have been basically sanctioned by inertia no longer work, and hemp is the best example of that.”
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