Cannabis Legislation Wrap Up for 2021

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Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Over the past 12 months, dozens of cannabis and cannabis-related bills were introduced to Congress. Some measures were renewed, others were introduced for the first time; however, each legislation dealt with a niche aspect of the industry, such as federal and state legalization, medical cannabis, banking, descheduling and rescheduling, decriminalization, social justice and equity, veterans access, minority- and women-owned small businesses and hemp and CBD. Below is a list and high-level summary of every federal cannabis bill introduced in 2021.


The SAFE Banking Act: On Thursday, March 18, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) reintroduced the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. H.R.1996 creates a safe harbor for financial institutions to provide traditional banking services to cannabis and cannabis-related businesses in states that have legalized the drug and also allows cannabis and cannabis-related businesses to access traditional banking services like lines of credit, loans and wealth management. The 2021 version of the bill is almost identical to the text introduced in the previous congressional session; however, the new legislation includes provisions that extend to the hemp industry. Although federally legal, the hemp industry struggles with regulatory guidance and financial challenges, similar to the cannabis sector. Additional changes to the text include requiring the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) to update its guidance for financial institutions seeking to provide services to cannabis and cannabis-related businesses and ensure that such changes align with the SAFE Banking Act. The bill also includes modified language on state-regulated insurance and redefines the term “financial service.” Lastly, the new legislation clarifies that a service provider and a cannabis business do not need to reside in the same state to engage in legal business activity. The bipartisan bill is co-led by Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH), and has more than 150 co-sponsors and is supported by 33 different financial associations, credit unions, trade groups and nonprofits. Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) sponsored the Senate companion bill (S.910), which has 40 co-sponsors: 29 Democrats, nine Republicans and two Independents.

Even with its broad support throughout both congressional chambers, the SAFE Banking Act struggled to advance in the Senate. After passing in the House as a standalone bill, as part of a COVID-19 package, and most recently as an amendment in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the legislation was unable to overcome its final hurdle in the Senate. In the end, the latest version of the NDAA did not include the SAFE Banking Act amendment. Although several letters were sent from Republican and Democratic senators and House representatives to include the language, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) persistence to propel comprehensive cannabis reform was too challenging to overcome. Alongside many of his colleagues, Rep. Perlmutter will continue to seek alternative pathways to advance the SAFE Banking Act.

The CAOA: On Wednesday, July 14, Majority Leader Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Booker introduced their long-awaited cannabis proposal, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). Although only a draft bill, the 163-page legislation aims to decriminalize cannabis by removing the drug from the federal list of controlled substances. Additionally, the legislation tackles other issue areas related to research, public safety, restorative justice and equity, taxation and regulation, public health and industry practices. The measure also includes language that addresses impaired driving, establishes health and safety standards under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and regulates the industry’s practices through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the Department of the Treasury.

Since its launch, the draft measure has shaken up the industry and stalled movement for other cannabis reform measures. During a press conference for the CAOA, the members were asked about advancing a smaller proposal, one that may resemble the SAFE Banking Act, and Sen. Schumer said that the banking bill “does not get done what needs to be done,” and noted that Americans needed a broad, comprehensive cannabis reform bill. However, the most notable response was from Sen. Booker, who up in arms said, “I do not know about other members in the Senate, but I will lay myself down and do everything I can to stop a banking bill that is going to allow all these corporations to make a lot more money off of this, as opposed to focusing on the restorative justice aspect.” Sen. Booker’s comments were not taken lightly by industry, and congressional members who pushed back on his statement noted that more targeted legislation was not about making corporations richer but rather about protecting employees, patients and customers of small businesses. 

The cannabis industry continues to await the release of the final version of the CAOA.

The HOPE Act: On Thursday, Dec. 2, Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC) Co-chair Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) introduced the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act. The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 6129) would help states expunge cannabis-related offenses by reducing the financial and administrative burdens through a federal grant program. The federal grant program, the State Expungement Opportunity Grant Program, would be funded up to $20 million from FY23-32 and would be overseen by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The HOPE Act would permit funding:

  • for technology;
  • for other innovative partnerships to provide widescale relief to individuals who are eligible for expungement;
  • to provide cost-effective legal relief for clinics that assist individuals through the expungement process;
  • to implement a notification process for those whose records are expunged;
  • to publish accessible information regarding the availability and status of an expunged record;
  • to automate the process of expunging convictions for cannabis offenses; and
  • to seal records of conviction for cannabis offenses, if appropriate.

The HOPE Act is endorsed by the U.S. Cannabis Council, NORML, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation, the National Cannabis Roundtable, Last Prisoner Project, the National Cannabis Industry Association and the Drug Policy Alliance.

The MORE Act: On May 28, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3617). The MORE Act aims to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), provide reinvestment opportunities for communities and individuals who have been adversely and disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and expunge nonviolent, federal cannabis-related convictions. Additionally, the measure would impose a 5% tax on cannabis products and make Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and services available to entities that are legitimate cannabis businesses.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, the House Judiciary Committee held a markup and considered eight amendments and 12 bills, including the MORE Act. During opening remarks, Rep. Nadler said, “This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana. It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color. I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.” He concluded that “whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.” Rep. Nadler thanked Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for co-sponsoring the bill and urged his colleagues to vote to pass the MORE Act.

During the markup, members debated legalization, job creation, criminal justice reform, social equity grants, incarceration, drug usage rates and taxes. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) said “Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For people smoking marijuana, it’s part of their pursuit of happiness, yet the war on drugs has deprived millions of their rights and purposely targeted and disenfranchised Hispanic, Black and White hippy Americans.” He urged his Republican colleagues to vote in favor of the measure and noted that descheduling cannabis, expunging records and reinvesting in the communities disproportionately impacted by the war of drugs was a critical step in the right direction. Although most of the Republican Party spoke out against the bill, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) praised Rep. Nadler for crafting such a comprehensive measure and said, “I am a proud cosponsor of the MORE Act because the federal government has screwed up marijuana policy in this country.” He did, however, express his concerns, alongside Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Thomas Massie (R-KY), about the bill’s excise tax provision. Rep. Massie sought to remove the tax provision; however, his amendment was ruled out of order. No amendment was agreed to or adopted by the committee, and discussion over the eight amendments derailed as members got in the weeds about abortion and COVID-19 vaccines. The committee ultimately voted to advance the measure in a 26-15 vote, with two Republican members voting in favor, Reps. Gaetz and Tom McClintock (R-CA). The measure awaits a House floor vote. 

The States Reform Act: On Monday, Nov. 15, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) released her cannabis reform bill, the States Reform Act. H.R. 5977 defers to the rights of states for the legalization of cannabis and does not require any state to change or modify its laws on the drug. Additionally, the measure supports federal decriminalization and the release and expungement of any nonviolent, cannabis-only conviction. The bill aims to regulate cannabis like alcohol and requires the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the TTB, which would be renamed as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Tax and Trade Bureau, to release guidelines for medical cannabis and policies for growers and producers. 

The States Reform Act imposes a 3% federal excise tax, which would fund law enforcement, small businesses and veteran mental health initiatives. Rep. Mace also included language to ensure veterans do not lose their VA health care benefits for cannabis usage. The legislation protects children and young adults by preventing nationwide advertisement, funding the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and making the sale of cannabis to minors illegal; and medical cannabis patients by expanding the list of medical conditions to arthritis, cancer, sickle cell and HIV/AIDS. More specifically, for the medical cannabis practice, the bill contains language that ensures the safe harbor of state medical cannabis programs and patient access, allows for medical research and the development and production of medical cannabis products.

The legislation has four Republican co-sponsors, Reps. Tom McClintock (CA), Don Young (AK), Brian Mast (FL) and Peter Meijer (MI), and as of Jan. 4 has been referred to the House Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee.

The Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act: On Feb. 5, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act (S. 253). The bill expands and streamlines scientific and medical research capabilities for cannabis and its compounds. The bipartisan legislation has support from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). On Monday, Nov. 1, Sens. Feinstein and Schatz filed an amendment to the NDAA, which replicated S.253. Although the senators’ amendment did not get nearly as much attention as the SAFE Banking amendment, it was also unable to clear the chamber. Ultimately, the provision was not included in the final NDAA text. 

In the last congressional session, the bill (S.2032)unanimously passed in the Senate. However, Senate lawmakers could not agree with House members on bill language. Instead of advancing Feinstein’s bill, the House opted to advance the Medical Marijuana Research Act (H.R.3797). Sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the legislation aims to reduce the barriers for legitimate medical cannabis researchers by establishing a new registration process to facilitate the research. Additionally, the bill would direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to register practitioners to conduct medical cannabis research and manufacturers and distributors to supply cannabis for such research. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required to continue supplying cannabis through the National Institute on Drug Abuse Drug Supply Program and implement a specialized process for providing products available through state-authorized cannabis programs to researchers until manufacturers and distributors could provide a sufficient supply of cannabis for medical research.

This legislation was reintroduced by Rep. Blumenauer during the 117th Congress as H.R. 5657. The bill has identical language and seven co-sponsor, five Democrats and two Republicans, and was referred to the House Budget Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Marijuana Data Collection Act: On April 29, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S. 1456, the Marijuana Data Collection Act. Co-sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the legislation requires HHS, DOJ, the Department of Labor and relevant state agencies to partner with the National Academy of Sciences to study the impacts of recreational and medical cannabis legalization. The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Reps. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the House companion bill (H.R. 3043), which was referred to the House Education and Labor Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The CLAIM Act: On March 18, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S.862, the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act. The legislation aims to provide a safe harbor from penalties or other adverse agency action to insurance companies that provide services to cannabis and cannabis-related legitimate businesses that operate in states that have legalized the drug. Additionally, the U.S. Government Accountability Office must report on barriers to marketplace entry for minority- and women-owned cannabis businesses. The measure was referred to the Senate, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and has three co-sponsors: Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

The House companion bill (H.R. 2068) was introduced by Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH). The measure was referred to the House Financial Service Committee.

The Drug Policy Reform Act: In partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Cori Bush (D-MO) introduced the Drug Policy Reform Act (DPRA) (H.R. 4020). The decriminalization bill aims to end criminal penalties for drug possession at the federal level, shift regulatory authority from the DOJ to HHS, specifically making HHS responsible for classifying drugs, with the intent of moving toward a more health-centric model. Additionally, the legislation would expunge existing criminal, nonviolent cannabis-related records and eliminate many lifelong consequences associated with drug arrests, personal possession and convictions, including the denial of employment, public benefits, immigration status, drivers’ licenses and voting rights. State courts could enforce the fine; however, it could be waived if an individual cannot afford it.

The measure was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Oversight and Reform Committee, the Financial Services Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Administration Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Budget Committee, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Highways and Transit Subcommittee and has 16 Democratic co-sponsors. 

The Clean Slate Act: On April 27, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced S. 1380, the Clean Slate Act. The legislation aims to establish a framework for sealing federal records for cannabis-related offenses. The Clean Slate Act also requires courts to automatically seal records related to possession of a controlled substances conviction or nonviolent cannabis offense and an arrest for a crime that does not result in a conviction. Lastly, the measure permits an individual to petition to seal records related to a conviction for other nonviolent offenses. In a press release, the Sen. Casey noted that more than one in three Americans have a criminal record, which prevents them from contributing to the economy. He hopes that S.1380 would remove housing, employment and education barriers and allow individuals a second chance to participate in society.

S. 1380 is co-sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and endorsed by the Center for American Progress, FreedomWorks, Justice Action Network, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Faith & Freedom Coalition, JPMorgan Chase, Business Roundtable and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Identical language was introduced in the House by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). H.R.2864 is supported by four Democrats and four Republicans and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.

The Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act: In conjunction with the Food, Drug and Cosmetics (FD&C) Act, the FDA will not approve of any dietary ingredient, supplement, food or beverage that contains hemp-derived cannabidiol (hemp-derived CBD) and hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substances, despite Congress’ legalization of the plant in the 2018 Farm Bill. To avoid industry confusion, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced S.1698the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act. The bill allows hemp-derived CBD products to be used in dietary supplements, foods and beverages under the FD&C Act, prioritizes consumer safety by requiring manufacturers to comply with all existing federal regulations and ensures CBD products are appropriately labeled.

The legislation is supported by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the American Herbal Products Association and hemp farmers from Oregon and Kentucky. 

The HEMP Act: Introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act (S. 1005) aims to create transparency by defining a margin of error in hemp testing and provide solutions for hemp farmers and processors. Additionally, the bill would amend the definition of hemp as found in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, adjusting the 0.3% THC threshold to 1%. Lastly, to prevent legal hemp from being seized during transport, the measure would require that hemp shipments contain one or two easily accessible types of documentation.

During a press release, Sen. Paul said, “[the] legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic potential, and I am proud the bill has strong support all the way from local Kentucky farmers and activists to national groups.” The measure was referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

The Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act: Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) reintroduced the Hemp and Hemp-Derived CBD Consumer Protection and Market Stabilization Act (H.R. 841)this congressional session. The bipartisan bill allows for the use of hemp-derived CBD or any other ingredient derived from hemp in a dietary supplement, provided that the supplement meets other applicable requirements. The measure has 36 co-sponsors, 23 Democrats and 13 Republicans, and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The Hemp Advancement Act: Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will introduce the Hemp Advancement Act. The bill aims to raise the THC limits for hemp crops and hemp extracts, eliminate the USDA’s laboratory testing requirement by the DEA and remove drug-related felonies for individuals seeking to acquire a hemp license. Rep. Pingree provided an overview of her legislation on Tuesday, Sept. 28, to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. The sector continues to await the release of the bill.

The CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act: On Dec. 2, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) introduced H.R.6134, the CBD Product Safety and Standardization Act. The legislation aims to establish federal standards for CBD food and beverage products to protect consumers and provide marketplace stability for farmers, producers and retailers. The bipartisan bill has five co-sponsors, three Democrats and two Republicans, and is endorsed by the Consumer Brands Association and the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. Since its introduction, the measure has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act: On Jan. 21, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced H.R.430, the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act. The bill aims to prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from denying veterans any VA benefit due to participation in a state-approved cannabis program. Additionally, the legislation states that for veterans participating in state-legal cannabis programs, the VA must ensure its health care providers: discuss cannabis usage, adjust treatment plans accordingly and record cannabis use in medical records. The legislation was referred to the House VA Committee and the VA Health Subcommittee and is co-sponsored by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Dean Phillips (D-MN).

The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act: On April 30, Rep. Luis Correa (D-CA) reintroduced the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research ActH.R. 2916 directs the VA secretary to facilitate a series of clinical trials on the effects of cannabis, specifically researching adverse health outcomes for veterans with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The legislation was co-led by Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) and referred to the House VA Committee.

The Senate companion bill (S. 1467) was introduced to the chamber by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK). Although the 2019 bill, S.179, was well supported, Tester updated the legislation’s language. In addition to directing the secretary of VA to carry out a series of clinical trials on the health effects cannabis can have on veterans who suffer from chronic pain and PTSD, the bill required the VA to investigate different components of PTSD and pain management. In addition to requesting that THC to CBD ratios be studied, the legislation calls for a research plan to be formed within 180 days of the bill’s passage. Lastly, annual reports must be provided to the House and Senate VA committees.

The Common Sense Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Medical Professionals Act: On Nov. 9, Republican Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC) Co-chairs David Joyce (R-OH) and Don Young introduced the Common Sense Cannabis Reform for Veterans, Small Businesses and Medical Professionals Act (H.R. 3105). The legislation aims to responsibly reform the federal government’s ineffective cannabis policy and protect the state’s rights. In non-cannabis legal states, the bill would also remove cannabis from the CSA, allow the VA to prescribe medical cannabis to veterans and create a safe harbor for financial institutions and other businesses. If enacted, the measure also calls for the FDA and the TTB to develop a regulatory framework modeled after the alcohol industry and directs the National Institutes of Health to conduct two studies focusing on pain management and cannabis impairment.

The U.S. Cannabis Council, the National Medicinal Cannabis Coalition and the National Cannabis Roundtable support the legislation.

The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act: On April 15, Congressional Cannabis Caucus (CCC) Co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced H.R.2588, the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act. The legislation would provide and implement guidance for veterans on medical cannabis. H.R. 2588 would also authorize, in compliance with state and tribal laws, veterans to use, possess or transport medical cannabis and for VA physicians and health care providers to discuss, recommend, complete forms for and register veterans to participate in a medical cannabis program.

Lastly, the bill requires the VA to report on the impacts of medical cannabis on veterans’ pain and the relationship between state-approved medical cannabis treatment programs, program access and opioid use and abuse reduction. Rep. Lee’s bill has 17 co-sponsors, 12 Democrats and five Republicans, and was referred to the House VA Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the VA Health Subcommittee, the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. 

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Senate companion bill (S. 1183). The legislation has eight co-sponsors, seven Democrats and one Independent, and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Veterans CARE Act: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) introduced the Veterans Cannabis Analysis, Research, and Effectiveness (CARE) Act (H.R. 2932). The bill requires the VA to conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of cannabis and cannabis delivery for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system and diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or PTSD. The legislation has two Republican co-sponsors, Reps. Nancy Mace (SC) and Peter Meijer (MI), and was referred to the House VA Committee and the House VA Health Subcommittee.

The Fully Informed Veteran Act: The Fully Informed Veteran Act was introduced on May 28 by Rep. Connor Lamb (D-PA). H.R. 3601 requires the VA to authorize VA physicians and health care providers permission to educate veterans on participating in state-legal cannabis programs. The bill also states that the term “state” includes the District of Columbia, federally recognized tribes and U.S. territories. The legislation was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the VA Committee, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the VA Health Subcommittee.

The Marijuana 1-to-3 Act: Rep. Steube introduced H.R. 365, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act on Jan. 19. The bill directs the DEA to reschedule cannabis from schedule I to schedule III on the CSA. The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee and the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The Destigmatizing in Immigration Act: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) introduced legislation to remove various immigration penalties related to cannabis. The measure notes that any cannabis-related use, possession or distribution offense would not prevent an alien from admission into the U.S., remove an alien from the U.S. or find that an alien lacks good moral character for immigration purposes. The bill would also ensure that any previously barred or deported alien would be readmitted into the country. Lastly, H.R.1614 would not constitute the distribution of cannabis as an aggravated felony for immigration purposes. The measure has five Democratic co-sponsors: Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR), Barbara Lee (CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Nydia Velázquez (NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act: On May 13, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced H.R. 3212, the Marijuana in Federally Assisted Housing Parity Act. In compliance with state law, the legislation ensures that individuals are not denied federally assisted housing for cannabis use and prohibits the Department of Housing and Urban Development from discouraging cannabis use in federally assisted housing. The measure was referred to the House Financial Services Committee.

The Home Grown Act: Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) reintroduced the Home Grown Act. H.R. 2649 aims to decriminalize cannabis, remove cannabis from the CSA and establish an “Equitable Licensing Grant Program” in the SBA. Additionally, the legislation would fund social justice programs to help individuals negatively impacted by the war on drugs enter the cannabis industry. The legislation was referred to the House Small Business Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Agriculture Committee.

The Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training for All Small Businesses Act: On April 19, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) introduced H.R. 2652, the Ensuring Access to Counseling and Training for All Small Businesses Act. The measure aims to ensure that particular Small Business Administration (SBA) entrepreneurial development services are made available to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers. The bill was referred to the House Small Business Committee.

The Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act: On April 20, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) reintroduced the Ensuring Safe Capital Access for All Small Businesses Act (H.R. 2712). The bill aims to ensure that certain SBA loan programs are made available to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers. The bill has five Democratic co-sponsors and was referred to the House Small Business Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Agriculture Committee.

The Gun Rights And Marijuana Act: On April 23, Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-chair Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Gun Rights And Marijuana (GRAM) Act (H.R. 2830). Co-led by Republican Reps. Brian Mast (FL) and Rodney Davis (IL), the bill aims to secure the Second Amendment right of Americans living in states and tribes with legal recreational and medical cannabis laws and defends a jurisdiction’s Tenth Amendment right to set their own cannabis policy. 

The Safe Driving Vehicles Act: On May 13, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) introduced H.R. 3177, the Safe Driving Vehicles Act. The bill would direct the secretary of transportation to develop educational programs and resources and carry out annual education campaigns to inform the public about the health and safety risks of impaired driving. Additionally, the legislation included language that would prevent “driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana and opioids.” The bill was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) introduced the Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act (H.R. 2841). The bill would grant student athletes the right to capitalize off their name, image and likeness (NIL). The legislation would also establish one federal NIL standard that safeguards the rights of students nationwide and protects the recruitment process, preserving the college athletics system. Additionally, the measure would provide congressional oversight and protect the recruitment process.

The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee and has nine co-sponsors, five Democrats and four Republicans.

The STARTER Act 2.0: On May 20, Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced H.R. 3341, the STARTER Act 2.0. The measure would authorize funds for federal-aid highways and highway safety and transit programs. Under Section 4002, Highway Safety Research and Development, the text reads, “The Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shall carry out a collaborative research effort to study the effect that marijuana use has on driving and research ways to detect and reduce incidences of driving under the influence of marijuana.” The bill has 36 Republican co-sponsors and was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Welfare for Needs not Weed Act: On July 19, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) introduced H.R.4536, the Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act. The legislation prohibits the use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) electronic funds in any establishment that sells cannabis. TANF is a federal program that supplies grant funds to states and U.S. territories to provide families with financial assistance and related support services such as child care assistance, job preparation and work assistance.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee.

The Drug-Impaired Driving Education Act: Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) introduced the Drug-Impaired Driving Education Act (H.R.3675) on June 1. The legislation requires the Department of Transportation to provide competitive grants to states to educate the public on the health and safety risk of drug-impaired driving. Additionally, states can use the grant to fund local government agencies, tribal governments and nonprofits to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving. Educational information and programing must use specific evidence and strategies, including those recommended by the 2019 Congressional Research Service, Marijuana Use and Highway Safety publication.

The measure was co-sponsored by Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH) and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the The Impaired Driving Study Act:Transportation and Infrastructure Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

On May 14, Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 3253, the Impaired Driving Study Act. The bill directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct a study to improve motor vehicle safety and address impaired driving for alcohol, cannabis and opioids. H.R. 3253 was co-sponsored by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee.

INVEST in America Act: On Wednesday, June 9, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act. Sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the $547 billion reauthorization bill reforms federal transportation policy, modernizes the nation’s existing roads and bridges and invests in passenger rail and public transit, cycling and walking infrastructure, and zero-emission options. The transit bill also contains cannabis language in Sec. 24102, Highway Safety Programs and Sec. 25026, Report on Marijuana Research.

Sec. 24102 encourages states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis to consider programs that educate drivers on the risks associated with cannabis-impaired driving and aim to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from individuals driving motor vehicles while impaired. Sec. 25026 requires the secretary of transportation, in consultation with the attorney general and the secretary of HHS, to submit to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation a report on:

  • Increasing and improving access to retailed cannabis for scientific researchers studying impairment while driving;
  • Establishing a national clearinghouse to collect and distribute samples and strains of cannabis for scientific research;
  • Facilitating access for scientific researchers located in states that have not legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use; and
  • Identifying federal statutory and regulatory barriers for conducting scientific research and developing a national clearinghouse for cannabis-impaired driving research.

The report must be submitted no later than two years after enactment and will be made publicly available on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website. 

During the markup, members debated dozens of amendments, excluding the cannabis amendments. The manager’s and substitute amendment, offered by Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and three Democratic amendments were adopted by voice vote. The Democratic members who sponsored adopted amendments were Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA), Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Chuy Garcia (D-IL). Republican amendments offered by Reps. Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Garret Graves (R-LA) were also adopted by voice vote, in addition to an amendment introduced by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX). The INVEST in America Act was favorably reported to the full chamber on a 38 to 26 vote. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-NY) and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) were the sole Republicans to vote for the amended legislation.

The bill advanced out of committee on June 10, on a 38 to 26 vote and out of the House on July 7, on a 221 to 201 vote. The measure was delivered to the Senate, where after extensive deliberation, the chamber passed the bill on a 69 to 30 vote, with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) not voting. The measure was sent back to the House for a final vote, where it passed on a 228 to 205 vote. On Nov. 8, the INVEST in America Act was sent to President Biden’s desk for his signature, and on Nov. 15, the bill became law. 



 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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