For the week ending December 4th
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA UNDER FEDERAL LAW: Voting 228 for and 164 against, the House on Dec. 4 passed a bill (HR 3884) that would allow marijuana to be used legally for medicinal and recreational purposes under federal law while allowing states to continue to set their own marijuana policies. The bill would federally decriminalize marijuana, or cannabis, by removing it from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which outlaws
possession, sale and cultivation and imposes stiff fines and potential jail time for all but the most minor offenses. In addition, the bill would:
- Impose a 5-to-8% sales tax on cannabis products, which would fund programs in communities devastated by drug abuse as well as Small Business Administration lending to commercial marijuana operations.
- Allow the Veterans Health Administration to write marijuana prescriptions in states and territories where medicinal use is legal.
- Require the expungement and sealing of federal marijuana convictions and a review of sentences for those
serving time for offenses, including the possession of small amounts.
- Require the Department of Transportation to develop best practices to guide local, state and federal law enforcement in testing and recognizing drivers impaired by marijuana.
- Prohibit any denial of benefits or protections under immigration law based on federal marijuana convictions.
- Require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on marijuana enterprises. At least 36 states and territories authorize the medicinal use of marijuana, and nearly a third of those also permit recreational use. Several other states have eased marijuana laws to a lesser degree and six states — Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming — totally outlaw the drug.
A “yes” vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
YES: Deb Haaland, D-1, Xochitl Torres Small, D-2, Ben Ray Luján, D-3
AUTHORIZING MARIJUANA WORKPLACE TESTING: Voting 174 for and 218 against, the House on Dec. 4 defeated a Republican measure to guarantee that employers, under the terms of HR 3884 (above), would have the right to test job applicants and employees for marijuana impairment to ensure the safety of the workplace.
A “yes” vote was to adopt the motion.
YES: Torres Small
NO: Haaland, Luján
SPEEDING ALS DISABILITY BENEFITS: Voting 96 for and one against, the Senate on Dec. 2 passed a bill (S 578) that would enable victims of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) to start receiving Social Security disability benefits at the time of their diagnosis. This would waive the statutory five month wait period for receiving Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits. The bill awaits House action. The negative vote was cast by Mike Lee, R-Utah. No senator spoke against the bill.
YES: Tom Udall, D, Martin Heinrich, D
CONFIRMING FEDERAL RESERVE GOVERNOR: Voting 48 for and 47 against, the Senate on Dec. 3 confirmed Christopher J. Waller, 61, for a term on the Federal Reserve System board of governors due to expire in
January 2030. Waller had been executive vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His confirmation leaves one vacancy on the seven-member board.
A “yes” vote was to confirm the nominee.
NO: Udall, Heinrich
HOUSE Deb Haaland (D) Ben Ray Luján (D) Xochitl Torres Small (D)
SENATE Martin Heinrich (D) Tom Udall (D)
Contact your legislators at the U.S. Capitol
Zip codes: House 20515, Senate 20510
Capitol operator: (202) 224-3121