As Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) takes over as chair, the House Rules Committee may no longer be the place cannabis reform goes to die.
"Unlike my predecessor, I'm not going to block amendments for marijuana," McGovern told The Boston Globe. He was of course speaking of the former Rules Committee chair Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his seat in Congress in this week's midterm elections. Sessions was well-known for his rigid, anti-marijuana stance, blocking most of the bills that came his way, something McGovern said was out of step with voters' opinions.
"Citizens are passing ballot initiatives, legislatures are passing laws, and we need to respect that. Federal laws and statutes are way behind."
McGovern says he understands full cannabis reform on a federal level would be challenging, but he is committing himself providing protections from federal interference for individual states that do decide to legalize the substance. Additionally, he plans to focus on opening up banking services to cannabis businesses, a problem that has long held back smaller companies that don't have access to wealthy investors from getting off the ground. And to tie things off, McGovern says he hopes to push Veterans Affairs to provide medical marijuana to vets in states where the substance is otherwise legal.
"This just seems like common-sense stuff," McGovern said. "Especially on the issue of medical marijuana—people who are opposed to that are just on the wrong side of public opinion, overwhelmingly. It'd be nice if, every once in a while, Congress acted in a way that people wanted. I know that may seem like a radical idea, but come on."
It has yet to be seen where McGovern's effort will lead given the unpredictable nature of the Trump administration. However, one thing is clear: Now that both of the anti-marijuana Sessions are out of the way, feds may actually rise to the call of cannabis policy reform.