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Congress' new Cannabis Caucus isn't just blowing smoke about legalizing pot

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Eight states voted to legalize some form of marijuana in the 2016 election, and lawmakers are taking note of the trend to legalize weed. Now, four lawmakers are joining forces to bridge the gap between states' laws and federal policies on pot. 

The Cannabis Caucus

Four lawmakers representing states that have legalized weed have launched the first ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus. 

Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Dana Rohorabacher (R-California), Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Don Young (R-Alaska) say they want to work together on legislation related to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. 


What are they doing?

The caucus plans to pursue new laws that would allow more government research into cannabis, increase access to medical marijuana for military veterans and reform tax and banking laws for pot businesses. 

Each of the caucus members is already pushing legislation related to cannabis policies. Rohrabacher -- who smokes to help treat chronic pain -- has a bill that would protect people who use cannabis in compliance with their state's laws. 

It makes no sense that under federal law, marijuana is classified alongside heroin and cocaine.
Rep. Jared Polis

Polis also has a bill that would reclassify marijuana so it is regulated like alcohol.

What about Jeff Sessions? 

The Congressmen launched the new caucus just one week after Jeff Sessions, who is famously anti-pot, was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney General. 

During a committee hearing last April, Sessions said "good people don't smoke marijuana." 

But the members of the Caucus say they are hoping that President Trump, who has said he would prefer marijuana policy to be decided by the states, will keep Sessions in line. 

"We're hoping, given that now he works for the president, he'll maintain those policy commitments that were made during the campaign," Polis said. 

Should the federal government legalize weed?

Growing support
Many polls have shown that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and more states are leaning toward legalization. 

In Texas for example, a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune polls shows 83 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana in some form. 

Getting on the bandwagon

There are more than 200 different issue-related groups that have gained support from like-minded lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Members of the newest caucus are confident more lawmakers will join up with them to fight for Cannabis-related legislation. 

"I think people will be surprised by the number of folks in the weeks ahead that will join up on a bipartisan basis to advance these objectives," Rep. Blumenauer said at a press conference to launch the new Caucus. 

Pot advocacy groups have applauded the new caucus and are pushing more lawmakers to take part. 

This week, the Michigan chapter of the cannabis advocacy group NORML  sent letters to lawmakers from that state urging them to become apart of the caucus. 

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