Lawmaker’s Misleading Comments On Marijuana Protections In Congressional Report Are Risky, Advocates Say - Grow Life 420

Lawmaker’s Misleading Comments On Marijuana Protections In Congressional Report Are Risky, Advocates Say

July 16, 2020

#KahliBuds #MMJ #CBD #THC

A Democratic congressman is touting marijuana provisions he helped secure as part of a House committee-passed spending bill, but his inflated mischaracterization of the scope of the components has reform advocates concerned.

The office of Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) claimed in a press release on Wednesday that the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation that includes language “protecting veterans and other federal employees who use marijuana in states like Florida where it is legal, from being denied employment or terminated from their jobs for testing positive for cannabis.”

“For veterans in Pinellas and across the country, this bill also protects your legal access to medical marijuana without jeopardizing your federal job,” the congressman said. “Those who served our country should never be shut out from federal employment opportunities for legally treating their service-connected injuries with marijuana.”

But, in fact, the Financial Services and General Government spending bill for the 2021 fiscal year does not call for explicit policy changes to that end. It simply “encourages [the Office of Personnel Management] to review its policies and guidelines regarding hiring and firing of individuals who use marijuana in States where that individual’s private use of marijuana is not prohibited under the law of the State.”

In other words, it recommends a policy review, rather than direct a policy change as Crist suggested.

A spokesperson for the congressman’s office told Marijuana Moment that “agencies are expected to be responsive to committee directives, and in his oversight role on the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Crist will continue to hold agencies to account for committee instructions.”

“Policy directives in report language—just like laws—depend on an Executive Branch to faithfully execute the language and intent, and it is not just marijuana policy where this Administration is falling short,” they said.

The staffer did not immediately respond to a follow-up question asking about the specific disconnect between the congressman’s statement about a sweeping policy change that would protect cannabis consumers from losing their jobs versus the bill report’s language that in fact simply calls for a policy review.

The House Appropriations Committee approved identical cannabis language last year as part of the 2020 fiscal year spending bill, but federal workers are still unable to use marijuana without risk of losing their jobs.

Crist has introduced several standalone bills that, if passed, would actually accomplish what he incorrectly said the spending legislation report provision would do—but they haven’t been scheduled for hearings or votes.

Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that “in a policy landscape of conflicting federal, state and local laws when it comes to marijuana, it is absolutely critical that policymakers be specific and not over-promise.”

“I know it’s easy to be excited about recent successes and the progress on the horizon, but people’s livelihood and freedoms are at risk 24/7 when it comes to cannabis in America,” he said.

Americans for Safe Access told Marijuana Moment that Crist should work to pass more robust legislation that would direct the Office of Personnel Management to “provide these protections and include specific language for OPM on how these cases should be handled.”

The group also recommended that Crist “revise his statement falsely advertising that federal protections have been extended to veterans and federal employees using cannabis, as no such protections have been authorized by Congress yet.”

Crist’s press release also mistakenly states that the appropriations legislation includes the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act—a bipartisan bill that would provide protections for banks and credit unions that service marijuana businesses in legal states.

That standalone bill cleared the House last year and was also attached to a coronavirus relief package that also passed the chamber, but it was not inserted into this latest spending bill as Crist asserts.

What was included is a more modest provision that restricts Department of Treasury funds from being used “to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds” that is legal under state or tribal law.

That is essentially a significantly watered-down form of the standalone banking measure that would add robust legal protections for cannabis financial services. For example, whereas the appropriations rider simply says the Treasury Department would be unable to punish banks themselves for working with state-legal firms, the Justice Department could still prosecute both banks and businesses under the measure, which doesn’t cover that part of the government.

As Strekal noted, there’s good reason for advocates to be excited about the wide range of cannabis reform proposals that lawmakers are pushing as part of the appropriations process. Other recent spending bill provisions and reports have called for promoting research into cannabis, funding CBD regulations and letting Washington, D.C. use its local dollars to implement legal marijuana sales, for example.

But for constituents reading press releases or social media posts—rather than the actual text of any given piece of legislation—making sure that lawmakers are providing accurate summaries of what has been approved is an imperative.

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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

The post Lawmaker’s Misleading Comments On Marijuana Protections In Congressional Report Are Risky, Advocates Say appeared first on Marijuana Moment.



Kyle Jaeger, KahliBuds, 420GrowLife

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