Eleanor Holmes Norton on Drugs
Democratic Representative (DC-Delegate)
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To establish minimum drug testing standards for major professional sports leagues.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: The purpose of this bill is to protect the integrity of professional sports and, more importantly, the health and safety of our nation's youth, who, for better or for worse, see professional athletes as role models. The legislation would achieve that goal by establishing minimum standards for the testing of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances by major professional sports leagues. By adhering to--and hopefully exceeding--these minimum standards, major professional sports leagues would send a strong signal to the public that performance-enhancing drugs have no legitimate role in American sports.
Finally, the bill would give the Office of National Drug Control Policy--ONDCP--the ability to add other professional sports leagues as well as certain college sports if the ONDCP were to determine that such additions would prevent the use of performance-enhancing substances by high school, college, or professional athletes.
The need for reforming the drug testing policies of professional sports is clear. However, I introduce this legislation reluctantly. Over a year ago, I stated publicly that the failure of professional sports--and in particular Major League Baseball--to commit to addressing the issue of doping straight on and immediately would motivate Congress to search for legislative remedies. Despite my clear warning and the significant attention that Congress has given to this stain on professional sports, baseball, and other professional leagues have refused to do the right thing.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; hearings held (S.Hrg.109-525); never came to a vote.
A bill to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. Biden: My bill will eliminate the current 100-to-1 disparity [between sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine] by increasing the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold quantity for crack cocaine to 500 grams, from 5 grams, and the 10-year threshold quantity to 5,000 grams, from 50 grams, while maintaining the current statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine. It will also eliminate the current 5-year mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine, the only mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of a drug by a first time offender.
Drug use is a serious problem, and I have long supported strong antidrug legislation. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws should be rational and fair. My bill achieves the right balance. We have talked about the need to address this cocaine sentencing disparity for long enough. It is time to act.
This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.
Congressional Summary: Amends the federal criminal code to extend the pre-judgment probation and expungement procedures for simple possession of a controlled substance to individuals who are convicted of drug trafficking or of attempting or conspiring to commit a drug offense. Sets forth requirements for granting pre-judgment probation for drug trafficking or of attempting or conspiring to commit a drug offense, including that:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.
The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.
Congressional Summary:The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act: The provisions of [federal law] related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.
Proponent's argument for bill: (PolicyMic.com): While the bill does not attempt to legalize the drug in individual states, it would immunize individuals in states taking measures to reform marijuana laws from federal prosecution. Currently, 18 states allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. Support for the bill arises from not just moral, but practical and financial grounds: The marijuana industry costs U.S. taxpayers roughly $42 billion annually in enforcement costs and lost tax revenues.
Opponent's argument against bill: (USA Today 8/29/13 and the Drug Free America Foundation dfaf.org): The Justice Department will not attempt to challenge state laws that allow for the medical and recreational use of marijuana as long as the drug sales do not conflict with eight new federal enforcement priorities. "We are very disappointed that Eric Holder's not doing his job,'' said the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. "It is his job to enforce our nation's laws. He has created what will become a tsunami that will most likely result in far too many young people becoming victims of chemical slavery."
Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Holder's action amounted to a violation of the law. "He's not just abandoning the law," Bensinger said, "he's breaking the law; he's putting the people of Washington and Colorado at risk. He's violating the treaty obligations of this country. He's telling the world we don't really follow the law here."
Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.
Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):
Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.
Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):
Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2016 NORML scores as follows:
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.
NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.
NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession & responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This model is called "decriminalization."
NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."
NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.
NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.
Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.
To permit the use of Federal funds for syringe exchange programs for purposes of reducing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including HIV and viral hepatitis.
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Newly-elected Democrats taking office Jan.2017:
Newly-elected Republicans taking office Jan.2017: