En español
NIDA

Congressional Affairs, September 2015

Prepared August 24, 2015 

Appropriations

Committees in the House and Senate have approved bills, and the process is currently stalled. There is general expectation that a Continuing Resolution will be needed to fund agency operations as of October 1.

Congressional Hearings/Briefings etc.

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

  • May 12 – Marijuana briefing sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Volkow provided remarks on the health effects associated with cannabis use. See http://www.aaas.org/news/legal-use-marijuana-spreads-researchers-seek-better-assess-risks-and-benefits.
  • May 12 – At the request of Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY), Dr. Volkow participated in a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the Congressional Prescription Drug Caucus. She presented on the research and science around opioid addiction and treatment.
  • May 12 – At the request of Representative John Fleming (R-LA), Dr. Volkow met with him and staff to discuss marijuana research and health issues.
  • May 19 – Dr. Volkow accompanied NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to the inaugural meeting of the Senate NIH Caucus. See http://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-graham-launch-senate-nih-caucus.
  • May 27 – Several staff from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions visited NIH. Dr. Volkow provided them with a short briefing on NIDA issues and priorities.
  • June 1 – The Friends of NIDA sponsored another outstanding Capitol Hill Briefing, this one focused on heroin and opioid addiction and overdose. Dr. Volkow provided remarks, and the event was very heavily attended. See http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2015/07/heroin-opioid-addiction.aspx.
  • June 19 – At the request of the House Energy and Commerce Committee staff, Dr. Volkow provided a briefing on marijuana research and health issues. 
  • June 24 – The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing focused on barriers to cannabidiol research. Dr. Volkow and others testified – see http://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/content/drug-caucus-hearing-barriers-cannabidiol-research for more information, and http://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/hearings for video of the hearing.
  • July 29 – The Addiction Policy Forum held another in its series of Capitol Hill briefings focused on opioids issues. This installment focused particularly on military personnel and veterans, and NIDA staff worked with the Forum to help frame issues. See http://addictionpolicy.org/vets-forum/.

Legislation of Interest

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 so as 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 – 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. See S.134.

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 – 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. See S.683.

H.R. 1635 – 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. See S. 1333.

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 – 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. See S. 987.

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 – 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. See S. 1726.

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 for 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. 134 – On January 8, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) 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. See H.R. 525.

S.683 – On March 10, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) 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 Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 1538.

S. 987 – On April 16, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act, 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 Finance. See H.R. 1855.

S. 1333 – On May 13, Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015 to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude cannabidiol and cannabidiol-rich plants from the definition of marijuana, and for other purposes. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. See H.R. 1635.

S. 1726 – On July 9, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) 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 Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. See H.R. 2076.

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

H.R. 953 – On February 12 Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, to 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. See S. 524.

H.R. 1462 – On March 19, Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act, to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. See S.799.

S. 524 – On February 12 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, to authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address the twin epidemics of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee. See H.R. 953.

S. 799 – On March 19, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act, to combat the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. See H.R. 1462. 

Other Topics

H.R. 6 – On May 19, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the 21st Century Cures Act – it passed the House on July 10. See appendix for a full summary from the NIH Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis.

H.R. 1988 – On April 23, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced the Breaking Addiction Act of 2015, to provide for the waiver of the Medicaid IMD limitation in order to permit Medicaid coverage for substance use disorder treatment services furnished to certain individuals in a community-based institution for mental diseases. The bill was referred to the committee on Energy and Commerce.

S. 728 – On March 12, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Reauthorization Act, or the STOP Act. This bill would direct the Secretary to continue to conduct research and collect data on the short and long-range impact of alcohol use and abuse upon adolescent brain development and other organ systems as well as work in collaboration with the Directors of NIAAA and NIDA, among other federal officials, on the Interagency Coordinating Committee Annual Report on underage drinking and prevention. This legislation would prohibit making, selling, distributing, or possessing powdered alcohol. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.