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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Decriminalization of Marijuana

March 21, 2017, 3:43 PM HST (Updated March 22, 2017, 7:38 AM) · 57 Comments
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US Representative Tulsi Gabbard spoke on the House floor today to urge Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana.

If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list — joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco.

Rep. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.

Rep. Gabbard has supported the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform.

“Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country. They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate. I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform.”

Last month, she visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

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“It’s clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness. Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment,” said Karen Umemoto, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and juvenile justice researcher.

The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees. Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings,” said Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on Hawaiʻi Island.

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