House of Representative bill numbers are infinite, however the number 420 was specifically set aside this week for weed. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer introduced his adopted bill this week, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and made sure it was assigned as H.R. 420. The bill was adopted from Colorado’s new governor, Jared Polis, who served as a representative of Colorado for the last ten years. If passed the bill would entirely remove marijuana from the scheduling list on the Controlled Substance Act and legalize marijuana nationally.
In the first full week of the initial 2019 legislative session for the House of Representatives, marijuana has been a major topic. The CARERS Act was reintroduced which, if it passed, would allow states to create medical marijuana laws without interference from the federal government and allow physicians in the VA Healthcare System to make medical marijuana recommendations to their patients.
H.R. 420 is much more far reaching though as it would make cannabis legal on the federal level, move the law enforcement duties of cannabis from the DEA to a newly created Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives, and transfer oversight to an Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana Tax and Trade Bureau. Basically, states would be able to decide for themselves whatever they wanted in terms of cannabis legalization, and weed would be regulated federally just like alcohol..
It’s nothing new as versions of these bills have been floating around Congress for a while now. What is impossible to ignore though is the apparent humor lawmakers are finding in creating marijuana reform bills. The use of the number 420 by our federal government is becoming almost obscene. As you are all likely aware, 420 is symbolic of weed. Friends meet at 4:20 pm to smoke weed together, and people all around the world are just crazy about April 20th now.
THC and the myriad of cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant are well known for their abilities to trigger fits of laughter. However, it’s particularly funny that people do not even need to be under the psychoactive effects of weed to find humor in the plant. Weed puns may be the most common jokes found on social media and on the internet in general. The longest standing, and one of the most conservative senators in Congress, Orrin Hatch out of Utah, made 8 weed puns in a 2017 statement concerning his MEDS Act.
“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch said in his statement. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”
“I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders,” Hatch continued. “In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.”
But, the use of the number 420 by Congress is kind of crazy too. Rep. Blumenauer is a cosponsor of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment which has stopped the Justice Department from interfering with state legal medical marijuana programs many times over the years. The first time Congress blocked the Justice Department though, the measure was called Roll Call 420. California tried to legalize adult-use marijuana in 2003 with S.B. 420 and a couple of years ago Rhode Island tried to pass S. 420 to legalize recreational marijuana.
While the legalization of cannabis a a very serious issue, people have had their lives ruined by marijuana prohibition and patients have been missing the medicinal benefits of cannabis for far too long, it also important to see the light side of cannabis as well. Smoking marijuana is something that brings people together and makes people feel better. It’s important that people remember that as we get closer to the end of prohibition.