Lawmakers form committees and groups for all kinds of issues—like the environment, health care and now, cannabis.
Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), one of the founding members of the caucus, supports the bipartisan approach that Congress is taking with cannabis.
“This is happening all across the country, and its going to continue,” said Blumenauer, an advocate for legalized cannabis since the 1970s. “The industry is growing, as is public acceptance and demand for medical marijuana.”
Blumenauer is joined by Dana Rohrabacher (D-California), Jared Polis (C-Colorado) and Don Young (R-Alaska). Not surprisingly, all four represent states that have legalized recreational cannabis.
The cannabis industry earned $6.7 billion in legal sales last year in the U.S. With eight new states passing cannabis initiatives last November, that figure is sure to increase dramatically. Especially with California, the most populated state in the Union, voting to allow recreational cannabis.
“This is a huge deal for my constituents,” said Polis, whose state collects tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and fees from legal cannabis sales every year.
During his term, former president Obama directed the Department of Justice to not interfere with states that legalized cannabis. While campaigning President Trump said he plans to continue this policy, but some cannabis advocates are worried. Most experts and Rohrabacher doubt that Trump will interfere with medical cannabis, which has been around in some states for over 20 years. A recent poll found that 89 percent of those questioned support medical cannabis, compared to the 54 percent that believe in recreational cannabis. “There are some areas that we need to focus on and make sure the Trump administration doesn’t go wholeheartedly in the wrong direction,” Rohrabacher said.
The cannabis caucus hopes to increase medical cannabis research and revise tax and banking regulations that are hampering the current cannabis world.