Congresswoman Barbara Lee Introduces Three Bills to Modernize Federal Cannabis Laws

Washington D.C. -- Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, introduced three bills to reform federal cannabis laws and encourage greater equity and fairness in the cannabis industry.

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in the past. As the public’s views toward marijuana have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies are fair, equitable and inclusive,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Sadly, while some have benefited from recent reforms to state and local cannabis laws, people of color, veterans and other underrepresented communities have been locked out of this progress. Today, I will be introducing three bills to modernize our federal cannabis policies and ensure that everyone can participate in this emerging industry.”

“With current uncertainty around the Cole Memo, it is of the utmost importance that we move to protect states like Colorado from federal intervention in state and local cannabis laws,” said Congressman Joe Neguse, cosponsor of the REFER Act. “Our state brings in over $1.5 billion annually in cannabis sales with a growing number of legal retailers and workers. This bill would ensure that Colorado, and other states like ours, can continue to expand the cannabis industry in our state, with assurance that the Department of Justice cannot and will not interfere.”

Below you can find background on the three bills introduced by Congresswoman Lee.

  • Marijuana Justice Act: Marijuana prohibition has disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color, fueling mass criminalization and a crisis of over-incarceration. This Marijuana Justice Act would reform our unjust marijuana laws, and provide restorative justice to communities of color torn apart by the failed war on drugs by ensuring that profits from the legal cannabis industry are put back into the communities that have been hurt the most.
  • REFER Act: This bipartisan bill would prevent federal agencies from using taxpayer funds to interfere in state and local cannabis laws. It would ban the use of federal funding by any agency to intrude in states and local municipalities that have updated their laws regarding cannabis use, possession, cultivation and distribution.
  • RESPECT Resolution: Due to decades of inequitable enforcement and discriminately sentencing for cannabis offenses, communities of color are being locked out of the burgeoning cannabis industry. It is estimated that less than 1 percent of the cannabis industry is owned or operated by people of color. This resolution highlights these inequities and encourages policy reforms to help communities of color benefit from and expand their foothold in the cannabis industry.