En español
NIDA

Congressional Affairs, February 2016

Prepared February 5, 2016

Hearings, Briefings, Meetings

Capitol Hill Activity continued briskly in this time period.  Events included:

  • 9/16/15: NIDA staff brief Senate Appropriations Committee staff on marijuana research issues.
  • 9/30/15: NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton briefs Senate Finance Committee staff on opioids issues.
  • 10/7/15:  NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow accompanies NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to NIH hearing in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
  • 10/21/15:  NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton participated in a Capitol Hill briefingThe Silent Epidemic: Hepatitis C and its Impact on Women–sponsored by Women’s Policy, Inc. and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
  • 11/13/15: NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow participated in an Administration briefing focused on marijuana issues for several Senate staff.
  • 11/16/15:  NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow met, with other senior NIH staff, with several members of the House Doctors’ Caucus.  Several issues received focus, including marijuana and opioids research.
  • 11/17/15: NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow briefed Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s staff on opioids and marijuana issues.
  • 11/18/15:  NIDA staff participated in an Administration briefing on Spice for Senator Murkowski’s staff.
  • 12/1/15: NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton participated in a briefing, focused on opioids and especially fentanyl, for the House Bipartisan Task Force on the Heroin Epidemic.
  • 12/1/15:  NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton participated in a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the Friends of NIDA–focused on the co-occurring epidemics of opioid addiction, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C.
  • 12/3/15:  NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton participated in a Capitol Hill roundtable discussion focused on public responses to the Hepatitis C epidemic.
  • 12/4/15:  NIDA staff participated, with representatives of other executive branch agencies, in a discussion with House Energy and Commerce committee staff focused on legislation to address synthetic drugs and drug scheduling issues.
  • 1/5/16:  NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow met with and briefed Congresswoman Diane Black on marijuana and opioid research issues.
  • 1/11/16:  NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton participated in a briefing, focused on opioids and effective treatment approaches, for the House Bipartisan Task Force on the Heroin Epidemic.
  • 1/27/16:  NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing focused on prescription drug and heroin abuse and addiction.

Legislation of Interest

Most proposed legislation rarely moves very far or garners significant attention.  The following information is provided to give readers a sense of the volume and intensity of interest in topics specifically germane to NIDA’s mission.  Given the overall policy landscape, a focus on marijuana and opioids is provided here.

Legislation Enacted

The Protecting Our Infants Act (originally proposed as HR 1462, Katherine Clark (D-MA) et al and S. 799 (Mitch McConnell (R-KY)) was signed into law by the President on November 25, 2015.  This law is designed to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. 

Marijuana Focus

H.R. 262 – On January 9, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law.  The bill was referred to the Committees on Judiciary and Energy and Commerce. 

H.R. 525 and S. 134 – On January 26, Representative Massie Thomas (R-KY) introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee.  On January 8, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the same bill in the Senate. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

H.R. 667 – On February 3, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Veterans Equal Access act, to authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in state medical marijuana programs.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 1013 – On February 20, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act, to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, to leave to the states the power to regulate marijuana in a similar way to the way they regulate alcohol, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to several committees: Judiciary, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources.

H.R. 1014 – On February 20, Representative Earl Blumenauer introduced the Marijuana Tax Revenue act of 2015, to amend the IRS code of 1986 to provide for the taxation of marijuana.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R. 1538 and S. 683 – On March 23, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced the CARERS Act, to extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana.  The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, Veterans, and Financial Services.  On March 10, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the same bill.  It was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

H.R. 1635 and S. 1333 – On March 25, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) introduced the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015, to amend the controlled substances act to exclude cannabidiol-rich plants from the definition of marijuana.  The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Judiciary. On May 13, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the same bill.  The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 1774 – On April 14, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Compassionate Access Act, to provide for the rescheduling of marijuana, the medical use of marijuana in accordance with state law, and the exclusion of cannabidiol from the definition of marijuana.  The bill was referred to the committees on Energy and Commerce and Judiciary.

H.R. 1855 and S. 987 – On April 16, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity act, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.  On the same day, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the same bill in the Senate.  It was referred to the Committee on Finance.

H.R. 1940 – On April 22, Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for a new rule regarding the application of the Act to marihuana, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary.

H.R. 2076 and S. 1726 – On April 28, Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, to create protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to the Committees on Financial Services and Judiciary.  On July 9, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the same bill in the Senate.  It was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

H.R. 2331 – On May 14, Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) introduced the No Welfare for Weed Act of 2015, to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to prohibit the use of benefits to purchase marijuana products, to amend Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act to prohibit assistance provided under the program of block grants to states for temporary assistance for needy families from being accessed through the use of an electronic benefit transfer card at any store that offers marijuana for sale, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to the Committees on Ways and Means and Agriculture. 

H.R. 2373 – On May 15, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA) introduced the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act, to provide for the legitimate use of medicinal marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various states.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

H.R. 2598 – On June 1, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Lucid Act of 2015, to amend title 23 of the U.S. Code to establish requirements relating to marijuana-impaired driving, to direct the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue comprehensive guidance on the best practices to prevent marijuana-impaired driving, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

H.R. 3010 – On July 9, Representative David Reichert (R-WA) introduced the Preserving Welfare for Needs not Weed Act, to prohibit assistance provided under the program of block grants to states for temporary assistance for needy families from being accessed through the use of an electronic benefit card at any store that offers marijuana for sale.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

H.R. 3124 – July 21, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015, to permit the expungement of records of certain marijuana-related offenses.  The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. 

S. 1984 – On August 5, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Keeping Out Illegal Drugs Act of 2015, to prevent Indian tribes and tribal organizations that cultivate, manufacture, or distribute marijuana on Indian land from receiving federal funds.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

Opioids Focus

The President will propose in his FY 2017 budget significant increased efforts to address opioid addiction and overdose.  See https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/02/01/preventing-epidemic-opioid-abuse-and-heroin-use.  This follows his announcement of 10/21/15 regarding an increased focus on the issue – https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/21/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-public-and-private-sector.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – Introduced as HR 953 and S 524, these bills would  authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription drug and heroin abuse.  The bill was referred to the committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce in the House and Judiciary in the Senate.  The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on January 27 that largely focused on this bill, and committee markup is expected soon.

H.R. 1725 and S. 480 – On September 8, 2015, the House passed and sent to the Senate the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Reauthorization Act of 2015, to amend and reauthorize the controlled substance monitoring program within the PHS Act.  Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) had introduced this bill in the Senate in February of 2015, and it was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

H.R. 2536 and S 1455 – On May 21, 2015, Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY) introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT), to provide access to medication-assisted therapy, and for other purposes.  The bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

H.R. 3680 – On October 1, 2015, Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2015, to provide for the Secretary of HHS to carry out a grant program for co-prescribing opioid overdose reversal drugs.  The bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

H.R. 3691 and S. 2226 – On October 6, 2015, Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act, to amend the PHS Act to reauthorize the residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women and to establish a pilot program to state substance abuse agencies to promote innovative service delivery models for such women.  The bill was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.  On November 3, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the same bill, which was referred to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

H.R. 4396 – On January 28, 2016, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act, to support a comprehensive public health response to the heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis.  The bill was referred to the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, Ways and Means, and Education and the Workforce.

S 2241 – On November 4, 2015, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Combat Heroin Epidemic and Backlog Act of 2015, to combat the heroin epidemic and drug sample backlogs.  The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

S. 2423 – On December 18, 2015, Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced this emergency supplemental appropriations bill, making appropriations to address the heroin and opioid drug abuse epidemic during FY 2016.  This bill includes $30 million for NIDA.