Congressman Forges Road for Federal Cannabis

  • Overview of recent memo submitted to the Democratic Leadership Party
  • Discussion of the new possibility and argument for federally legal cannabis
  • Timeline and next steps

Exciting news may be on the horizon for legal cannabis. It seems the legislative trend making way state by state has found a direct line to federal legality, according to Oregon Congressman, Earl Blumenauer, in a memo sent to House Democratic Leadership.

Using polling statistics to affirm his point that Congress sits behind a forward-moving country, Blumenauer points out that 69% of registered voters support legalizing marijuana, and even more believe previously criminalized consumers deserve expunged records. He urges Democrats to “seize the moment,” should they retake the House of Representatives. The subsequent timeline serves as a map for the Democratic Majority to grab the reins on marijuana and other cannabis products by 2019’s end. If this path forward is enacted by the House, combined with support from senators, such as Cory Gardner who recently took action to eradicate federal interference with states that allow legal consumption, cannabis could descheduled, by 2020.

Let’s take a look at the timeline drafted by Blumenauer:

January to March

It all starts with the conversation. Should the Democratic Party retake the House, the congressman states each committee must “hold hearings, bring in experts, and discuss potential policy fixes.” He then offers examples of how these hearings would play out. The list is as follows:

  • House Judiciary: Host a hearing on descheduling marijuana
  • House Veteran Affairs: Host a hearing on veteran’s safe and equal access to marijuana
  • Energy and Commerce: Host a hearing focused on the legal allowances on cannabis research
  • Financial Services: Host a hearing discussing the barriers in place between the cannabis industry and banking, as well as the banks cannabis capital
  • Ways and Means: Host a hearing on the industry’s current “unfair and unequal” taxation
  • Natural Resources: Host a hearing on tribal sovereignty and marijuana, as well as the black market’s negative impacts on public lands
  • Oversight and Government Reform: Host a hearing focused on allotting veterans who engage in legal use the ability to obtain federal government jobs
  • Administration: Host a hearing on candidates who support legalization, ensuring their access to funds
  • Education and Labor: Host a hearing discussing access to student loans for students convicted of possession

April to June

Here, Blumenauer calls committees to focus on bills in their respective states that would lead to responsible opportunities for bridging the policy gap between state and federal law. This would coincide with ongoing efforts toward a federally focused legal marijuana bill.

He offers a comprehensive list of primary concerns and means of action, ranging from restorative justice and abdicating research barriers to the call for equal taxation.


The House will pass the previously referenced bills of reform.

September to December

Assuming the timeline is followed accordingly, this point in the year will stand atop several months of hearings and policy markups. Congress should then offer a complete descheduling bill to the Senate, using allies, the supporting bills currently posed by Senators, and citizen support.

Years End

Upon passing, nationwide use would be federally legalized. States would have the right to regulate mindful consumption without interference.

Blumenauer ends his memo with a final call to action, aligning himself with a bipartisan coalition aimed to unify Congress with public demand. The final sentence is a declaration fueled by vigor. Blumenauer simply states: “Now is our moment.”

It certainly has been an exciting year for cannabis. In light of this memo, promise of a new federal horizon seems to be, for perhaps the first time, possible. Blumenauer evokes both an urgency for lawful cannabis and need for policy that corrects the social and economic injustices faced by a diverse cast of consumers and businesses. This is hopefully a first step of many toward unification and a federally legal landscape.

Click here to read the full memorandum.

Lauren Funaro

Lauren is the Marketing and Event Associate for Golden State Government Relations. In her position she combines her passions for others and the written word to produce thoughtful content. Learn more about Golden State Government Relations at and read more of Lauren's work at

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