Congress will consider federal marijuana reform “fairly soon,” the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York Democrat, made the comment in response to a remark from Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, during an unrelated committee hearing held on Capitol Hill hardly a month since the start of the 116th Congress.
“I will say I had hoped that at one of our initial meetings we would have been giving powers back to the states in the form of removing cannabis from the list of Schedule I drugs rather than taking powers from the states,” Mr. Gaetz said during the hearing. “I’ll also note that with some of the new additions on the Republican side, I think the committee would be very favorable to that. If we were any more favorable, we might have to start our meetings with the Grateful Dead.”
“Let me just observe on your time that we may be discussing that fairly soon,” Mr. Nadler responded.
Marijuana is federally outlawed and classified under the U.S Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 narcotic, placing it along heroin and ecstasy in the most restrictive of the CSA’s five categories for controlled drugs. Thirty-three states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for varying purposes, however, flying in the face of federal prohibition and putting pressure on Congress to weigh reform.
The exchange between congressmen was first reported by Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site.
“It’s no secret that Chairman Nadler is a supporter of comprehensive reform that would end the cruel policy of federal criminalization, having previously cosponsored legislation to do so,” reacted Justin Strekal, the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, or NORML.
“Mr. Nadler has always been receptive to his constituents and deriving evidence-based solutions, so we are looking forward to working with him and the whole Judiciary Committee to advance legislation in this Congress,” Mr. Strekal told Marijuana Moment.
A former attorney, Mr. Nadler assumed the role of committee chairman when Democrats gained controlled of the House earlier this month, succeeding former Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican.