WASHINGTON – Forbes reported Tuesday that a bipartisan band of politicians led by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has introduced The Marijuana Data Collection Act. The bill would require the federal government to acquire and report on data from legal marijuana states.
Gabbard held a press conference Tuesday with the bill's cosponsors Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), the former U.S. Attorney from Kansas Barry Grissom, and former South Carolina U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) deputy director Paul Armentano was also part of the joint press conference.
The Marijuana Data Collection Act will require the National Academy of Sciences to report federal data on state marijuana legalization policies for medical and recreational marijuana if passed. The report would also require data on the effects of legalizing marijuana on the criminal justice system, economy, public health, and safety.
“Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdated myths," said Gabbard. She went on to say that America's outdated marijuana policies have destroyed lives by turning average Americans into criminals while burdening the criminal justice system, noting that almost 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016.
Justin Strekal is the political director for NORML and agrees that public policy should be based on facts, not fear.
"Approving the Marijuana Data Collection Act would provide legislators with reliable and fact-based information to help them decide what direction is most beneficial to society when it comes to marijuana policy," he said, adding that Congress would not be justified if they opposed such a bill.
Gabbard Wants Full Legalization
Gabbard spoke on the House floor in 2017 in an effort to decriminalize marijuana and said that the differences between state and federal laws have created confusion for local businesses which has affected their ability to operate successfully. She urged her colleagues to support bipartisan commonsense marijuana reform.
Gabbard supports full marijuana legalization nationwide and says the bill would provide much-needed research. "Our bipartisan bill will authorize a nonpartisan, evidence-based report that analyzes current marijuana policies across the country and their effects on our communities," Gabbard said at Tuesday's press conference.
Rep. Gabbard also received the NORML Rufus King Sr. Public Leadership Award for her leadership in the fight to reform marijuana laws.
The National Academy of Sciences would be responsible for conducting the research. The academy would have 18 months to publish their findings and would be required to provide updates bi-annually.