Congressional House Members Introduce Multiple Medical Marijuana Reform Measures

Washington, DC: A bi-partisan coalition of United States House lawmakers have introduced multiple measures in Congress to reform federal marijuana laws.

House Bill 1983, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, ensures that medical cannabis patients, caregivers, or third-party providers in states that have approved its use will no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies. It states, “No provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed or recommended by a physician for medical use under applicable State law.”

Says the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA): “The time has come for the federal government to stop preempting states’ medical marijuana laws. For the federal government to come in and supersede state law is a real mistake for those in pain for whom nothing else seems to work. This bill would block the federal prosecution of those patients who reside in those states that allow medical marijuana.”

House Bill 1984, The Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011, provides that state-authorized medical marijuana businesses have full access to banking services by amending the federal Bank Secrecy Act. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who states: “When a small business, such as a medical marijuana dispensary, can’t access basic banking services they either have to become cash-only — and become targets of crime — or they’ll end up out-of-business. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, and for businesses that have been state-approved, it is simply wrong for the federal government to intrude and threaten banks that are involved in legal transactions.”

Finally, House Bill 1985, The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011, amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for expenses in connection with the trade or business of selling medical cannabis pursuant to state law. Says the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA): “Our tax code undercuts legal medical marijuana dispensaries by preventing them from taking all the deductions allowed for other small businesses. While unfair to these small business owners, the tax code also punishes the patients who rely on them for safe and reliable access to medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor. The Small Business Tax Equity Act would correct these shortcomings.”

In May, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a co-sponsor of both H.R. 1984 and H.R. 1985, also reintroduced H.R. 1831, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, which would exclude low potency varieties of marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The measure has 25 Congressional co-sponsors and is presently before the both the House Judiciary and the Energy and Commerce Committees.

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