Tulsi Gabbard on Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition

There is limited but compelling evidence suggesting marijuana's effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, addiction, chronic pain, and cancer. Members of our veterans community have courageously told their stories of struggles with opioid addiction and depression, and they have consistently advocated for the VA to allow discussion of medical marijuana between doctors and their patients. In Congress, I'm working with a bipartisan group that includes veterans on both sides of the aisle to pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 1227).

By removing marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, we can remove the barriers to enterprising small businesses so that they can secure bank loans and insure their businesses. Medical researchers currently handcuffed by strict federal regulations can be freed up to study treatments, and doctors can freely prescribe the best treatments to their patients. Critically, this bill will transform our criminal justice system. Millions of people and their families have been impacted by the so-called "War on Drugs," which has boosted the private prison industry but failed our nation's communities. Non-violent offenders are incarcerated for years, our prisons grow overcrowded, and our court systems become backlogged with cases of non-violent drug offenses overwhelming judges and public defenders. The racial disparity in marijuana-related arrests, despite similar usage habits across demographics, is but one indication of the systematic inequalities that we must resolve. We long ago moved past the days of dramatization and criminalization of marijuana use; it is ludicrous to argue that marijuana belongs in the same category as heroin or methamphetamines.

Whether an individual chooses to use marijuana or not should be treated the same as whether they choose to use alcohol or tobacco. With the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, we can begin to rectify decades of misguided law enforcement policy and focus on solutions. We can work for people like veterans and healthcare advocates instead of pharmaceutical lobbyists who will continue to push dangerous and addictive painkillers even amidst an opioid epidemic. Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition is the best way forward for our criminal justice and healthcare systems.

Do you agree that marijuana should be decriminalized?

Tulsi has introduced H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, with her Republican colleague and fellow Army veteran Tom Garrett.