We explore what HR 1227 means for marijuana legalization.
There is no doubt that marijuana is more accessible and more widely accepted than ever. It is now legal for medical use in 33 states plus D.C., and 11 of these states, plus D.C., also allow for recreational use.
However, the herb remains illegal on a federal level and is still listed as a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act. This poses serious problems when it comes to marijuana research and therapy.
Without sufficient evidence for its efficacy, cannabis is likely to remain as a Schedule I controlled substance for the foreseeable future. And being a Schedule I controlled substance makes weed incredibly difficult to access and study. It’s a classic catch 22 situation.
Fortunately, pro-marijuana activists have recognized the problem and introduced legislation to try and solve the dilemma. This legislation is known as HR 1227.
Understanding the Controlled Substances Act
The CSA, or Controlled Substances Act, was passed in 1970. It aimed to classify drugs into five schedules according to their therapeutic value and potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are reported to have the highest potential for abuse and the least medicinal value. Schedule II drugs are considered less dangerous, and so on.
Considering what we know about cannabis today, it may seem shocking that it is still listed as a Schedule I substance alongside harder drugs like heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and peyote. It is even more surprising when you consider that cocaine, methamphetamine, and several potent opioids are all listed as Schedule II!
The fact that marijuana is defined as a Schedule I controlled substance poses issues for scientists who wish to research the plant and its effects. The amount of paperwork that needs to be completed, and hoops that must be jumped through, is prohibitive for all but the most determined analysts.
Furthermore, even if a researcher is granted permission to conduct a cannabis trial, they must use weed grown by the University of Mississippi. This product is generally seen as low-quality and not representative of the potent strains you could buy in licensed dispensaries in legal states.
This lack of research is, in turn, detrimental to the millions of people who could potentially benefit from medical marijuana treatment. As long as the herb remains federally illegal, there are bound to be many patients left suffering needlessly. Worse still, they could be punished for something which really shouldn’t be a crime.
This is a significant issue, but a bill like HR 1227 could help. Let’s take a look at this piece of legislation and what it means for marijuana legalization.
What is HR 1227?
HR 1227 was introduced to the 115th Congress during 2017 by lead sponsors Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). It is also known as the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.”
The bill aims to amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove penalties associated with the possession and distribution of weed. It is, in fact, identical to a piece of legislation introduced to the 114th congress by Senator Bernie Sanders known as S.2237.
If the bill were to be passed, this would allow for more freedom in the import, export, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana. However, it would remain a criminal offense to transport cannabis to states or countries where it is still illegal. Doing so could result in a fine, a maximum prison sentence of one year, or both.
The bill itself is packed with legal jargon and is not the easiest to understand. However, if you are up for a challenge, you can read the whole thing here. In essence, the act would remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from Schedule I of the CSA. It would decriminalize its use, possession and, to some extent, transportation and distribution.
Did HR 1227 Pass?
The bill was first introduced to congress on February 27th, 2017. Unfortunately, a little over a year later, it was left dead in the water. The timeline of HR 1227 is as follows:
- 2/27/17 – Introduced to House by the House of Representatives
- 2/27/17 – Referred to the Committee on Energy & Commerce, and the Committee on the Judiciary
- 3/3/17 – Referred to the Subcommittee on Health
- 3/16/17 – Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland security, & Investigations
- 12/31/18 – Dead/Vetoed/Failed
It is a crying shame that the bill never came into fruition, but there is a silver lining. New pieces of legislation are now regularly being introduced, and it seems that, eventually, one of them will surely pass.
Just look at how many high-profile politicians are now stepping forward in support of cannabis legalization. Compared with only a few years ago, we truly have come a long way.
While federal legalization of marijuana may not happen this year or even next, we are certainly closer than we have ever been. That in itself is something we should be thankful for!
What Does HR 1227 Mean for Marijuana Legalization?
Although HR 1227 may not have passed, it seems likely that a similar bill will at some point in the not-too-distant future. And when it does, this will be a real bonus for cannabis researchers, patients, and recreational users alike.
With fewer restrictions on transportation and distribution of weed, scientists may finally begin to unravel the mysteries of marijuana and its many potential benefits. And patients could be allowed to travel between legal states with their medication, something which is currently forbidden.
Recreational users will be allowed to enjoy their hobby without prejudice and fear of prosecution that has plagued them for decades. Furthermore, people with marijuana-related convictions may be able to have them expunged from their records, a process which is already underway in certain legal states.
A bill like HR 1227 would also be beneficial for cannabis businesses such as dispensaries and breeders. Many banks currently refuse to handle marijuana-money, making it risky and complex to manage this kind of business. That could all change with legalization, benefitting not only individuals but also entire communities and the economy as a whole.
Final Thoughts on HR 1127
Although in the end, HR 1227 did not pass, a similar bill is bound to do so sooner or later. Once this happens, it will spell the end of the federal prohibition of marijuana and the beginning of a new era.
There are very few people who will not benefit in some way from cannabis legalization. Pot-lovers across the country will finally be able to light up without being branded as a criminal, something which we feel is long overdue. Even those who do not use the herb personally could enjoy the effects of a better economy and reductions in crime.
While, of course, we cannot say that marijuana is 100% harmless, when you compare it to legal substances like alcohol and tobacco, it poses far less of a threat. It seems insane that these dangerous drugs are an acceptable part of everyday life while an herb that has been used by humankind for so many years is not.
Here at MarijuanaBreak, we believe that there is no good reason for marijuana prohibition to continue. Thankfully, it seems that sooner or later, the government will be forced to agree!