A freshman Republican representative from Virginia introduced legislation this week that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana use and allow states to fully set their own course on marijuana policy.
The bill seeks to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and resolve the existing conflict between federal and state laws over medical or recreational use of the drug. It would not legalize the sale and use of marijuana in all 50 states – it would simply allow states to make their own decisions on marijuana policy without the threat of federal interference.
“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California,” Rep. Thomas Garrett, R, said in a statement. Currently neither the recreational or medical uses of marijuana are allowed in Virginia.
The bill does specify that transporting marijuana into states where it is not legal would remain a federal crime.
Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, meaning the federal government considers the drug to have a “high potential for abuse” and “no medically accepted use.” But more than half the states have set their own policies allowing either medical or recreational use of marijuana.
Garrett’s bill is identical to legislation introduced in 2015 by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). That bill didn’t receive any co-sponsors, nor did it get a Senate hearing. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has already signed on to Garrett’s bill, as have Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Va.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D.-Colo.).