Thank you for contacting me regarding marijuana legalization and H.R.1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013. I appreciate you taking the time to write and share your thoughts with me.
As you may know, H.R. 1523 was introduced on April 12th by Rep. Rohrabacher of California and has been jointly referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Although I am not a member of either of those two committees, I am following this legislation very closely as this is an issue that uniquely affects Washington State.
I have long supported the use of marijuana for prescribed medical purposes. Like every American, I have seen friends and family undergo treatment for devastating diseases. In some cases, their only relief came from a prescribed dose of marijuana. I firmly believe that doctors and patients should have the right to prescribe and use substances like marijuana that have legitimate medical purposes.
Last November, I sided with a majority of Washingtonians to vote for Initiative 502, which allows for the legal sale, possession and recreational use of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. I believe that the federal government should respect the decisions of Washington’s voters, and I am working to ensure that federal laws do not obstruct the implementation of I-502.
Despite Washington’s legalization vote, marijuana remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance, alongside incredibly dangerous drugs like heroin, LSD, and methylenedioxymethamphetam
I am particularly concerned about federal laws that restrict banks’ ability to offer their services to marijuana growers and merchants who operate legally in states like Washington. Right now, banks are hesitant to accept accounts from marijuana businesses because of federal regulations that require them to report any “suspicious activity” by their customers, including transactions of $5,000 or more that are known or suspected to be derived from illegal activity. As long as marijuana is illegal under federal law, Washington banks will face overwhelming reporting requirements and possibly even sanctions if they offer their services to marijuana businesses. That could force the marijuana market in our state to operate as 100% cash-based, which in turn would make it much harder for law enforcement to detect and prevent crimes like money laundering, theft, and illegal sales or purchasing. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that federal law does not force financial institutions to deny their services to the marijuana industry.
In the coming months we must work together – on both the state and federal level – to develop workable solutions that will keep our kids and communities safe while respecting the will of the people.
Again, thank you for contacting me about our state and national marijuana policies. I hope that I will continue to hear from you on this and other issues in the future.
Member of Congress