Hawai’i Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Urges Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana

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Hawaii’s Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has co-sponsored a bipartisan act to remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list. She joined a fellow Army veteran and former Virginia prosecutor, Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, in introducing the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR. 1227).

“FBI reports have shown that in 2011 alone, an individual in the United States was arrested for marijuana use, sale or possession every 42 seconds,” Gabbard said in a statement to the House.

She suggested federally decriminalizing marijuana is a key part of needed criminal justice reform. “Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for marijuana use — a drug that has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol, both for individual consumers as well as for the people around them.”

“Dr. Donald Abrams, who is the Chief of Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, has talked about how in the 37 years that he has worked and served as a physician, the number of patients that he’s admitted to his hospital with marijuana complications are zero,” Gabbard continued. “The number of patients that he’s admitted due to alcohol use is—quote—‘profound’.”

She pointed out: “The FDA still currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 classification, basically saying that marijuana is like heroin, LSD and MDMA, ignoring the fact that at least 28 states, including my home state of Hawaiʻi have already accepted the medical use of marijuana under state law. We need to require the FDA to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 based on state-accepted medical use.”

The two politicians called on Congress to take into account the growing body of evidence that suggests the medicinal benefits of marijuana, from the treatment of epileptic seizures to reducing anxiety and “even halting the growth of cancer cells.”

“I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform,” she said.

A group that provides data services to the marijuana industry estimates that the legal pot industry could be worth $24 billion by 2020 and create 280,000 jobs. In Colorado alone, marijuana sales topped $1.3 billion last year.

In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration reviewed the federal classification of marijuana and declined to loosen restrictions.

Tulsi Gabbard has a web site where folks can post their support for the bill.

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Jon Woodhouse

Jon Woodhouse

Jon Woodhouse is the Managing Editor of The Maui Independent. Moving to Maui 36 years ago, he feels blessed daily to live here. He writes weekly for The Maui News and has worked for the Department of Education since 2001.

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