Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) has long been a sane public voice on the need to end cannabis prohibition. Despite not using cannabis himself, Rep. Blumenauer has been in the trenches fighting for the cannabis community for over 40 years as he was a state representative helping Oregon become the first state to decriminalize personal amounts in 1973. Fast forward 4 decades, and much of our progress at the national level has been partly due because of Blumenauer's tireless work at the federal level. His pragmatic approach has helped lead us to advances such as the "Eight Points of Light" memo from the Obama Administration, setting federal guidelines for states to implement regulated cannabis commerce, and now comments from Attorney General Eric Holder stating the need for federal banking reforms.
Rep. Blumenauer will be speaking about the need for more marijuana law reforms at the federal level on January 31st, at the City Club in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon.
There is a revolution underway in the treatment of marijuana across the United States. In 1973, Oregon decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, a policy that has now been embraced by 14 other states. In 1996, California authorized the use of medical marijuana, and since then, 20 additional states and the District of Columbia have followed suit. Despite the fact that federal statutes list marijuana as a Schedule I substance with no therapeutic values, approximately one million Americans use medical marijuana. Washington and Colorado voters have also approved adult recreational use. While these states establish policies and mechanisms to implement those laws, a number of other states including Oregon are poised to follow this path in the next few years.
As a leader on marijuana reform in Washington DC, Congressman Blumenauer will lay out his vision of why and how the federal government needs to change federal drug laws and allow states, as the laboratories of democracy, to continue the evolution and refinement of marijuana policies.
Now that marijuana legalization is more and more a mainstream political issue, a growing number of elected officials are now speaking out about the need to reform our drug laws. Not just the usual liberal suspects, but even Republicans such as Chris Christie and Rick Perry are joining the ever-growing chorus of people willing to publicly announce that the status quo is a failed policy and our drug laws need major reform. When conservative anti-tax icon Grover Norquist joined Blumenauer at a press conference advocating for a change in federal tax code to accommodate legitimate cannabis businesses, I know that I was not alone among political observers who felt that the universe could implode when two public voices, usually on complete opposite ends of the political spectrum, joined forces. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis (D-Colorado) co-authored a report "The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy," laying out where the federal government is currently and some of the steps that need to be taken:
The document reviews the history of marijuana prohibition in the US, current conflicts between state and federal law, and outlines several opportunities to reform and clarify marijuana law at the federal level. Congressman Blumenauer has also posted a FAQ on marijuana and marijuana legislation.
Today over 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, more than any other country in the world, and 50% of all federal inmates are there for drug-related crimes. This is part of the reason our spending on corrections has increased at a much higher rate than our spending on higher education over the last 20 years.
Millions of people have been caught up in the justice system for marijuana offenses, and over 660,000 are arrested each year for possession. Too often people are serving time in jail for using a drug that nearly half the nation's population feels should be legal for recreational purposes and 70 percent feel should be legal for medicinal purposes.
Blumenauer's City Club presentation will be held at the Governor Hotel, 614 SW 11th Ave on January 31st from 12:15m to 1:15pm. Luncheon tickets, for City Club members, are $23 each and $30 for nonmembers. There are also coffee/tea table tickets available as well as general seating. To reserve a lunch via telephone, individuals (members and nonmembers) should call the Portland City Club's voicemail reservation line, 503-228-7231, ext. 110. Tickets for coffee/tea table and general seating are on a first-come, first-served basis at the door. Check out the City Club's website for additional details and information.
If you are around the Portland, Oregon, area I encourage you to attend and urge you to support Congressman Blumenauer's efforts at the federal level. While we often (justifiably so) complain about Congress, it is good to know that great people like Earl Blumenauer, and Jared Polis, are in Washington fighting for us.