Virginia congressman pitching marijuana “home run ball”
By Colin A. Young, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
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BOSTON — In refusing to rule out bringing federal charges against state-sanctioned marijuana businesses, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told pot activists and entrepreneurs earlier this week that their only path to legal safety and certainty runs through Congress.
Lelling’s comment echoed what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said about the federal prohibition on marijuana during his Senate confirmation hearing, effectively: If you don’t like the law, change it.
To that, U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia said, “Challenge accepted.”
A Republican who served as a prosecutor for a decade before entering politics, Garrett last year filed a bill to end the federal ban on marijuana and allow individual states to determine what marijuana policy is best. His legislation has attracted increased attention — including from one Massachusetts congressman — in the week since Sessions revoked an Obama-era policy that had essentially given the green light to state-sanctioned cannabis commerce.
“There’s a lot of legislation … but this is the home run ball, if you will,” Garrett told the News Service on Thursday. “This is the one that solves the scheduling problem, it solves the banking problem, it solves the states rights/federalist issue.
Garrett’s bill, HR 1227 or the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, would amend the federal Controlled Substances Act to remove marijuana from the law’s regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties, remove marijuana’s classification as a schedule I drug, and would eliminate federal penalties for anyone who “imports, exports, manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute marijuana,” according to a summary written by the Congressional Research Service.
The bill would make it a crime punishable