Congressman Cohen Presides at Hearing on “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform”

July 10, 2019
Press Release
Discusses “collateral consequences” of a record for conviction and removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of its Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, today questioned expert witnesses on marijuana policy at a hearing on “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform.”  

Congressman Cohen discussed a variety of issues with the witnesses, including the “collateral consequences” of a marijuana conviction, the difficulty in researching medicinal marijuana, and how to reprioritize law enforcement to make our communities safer.  In her testimony Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, Maryland, and Congressman Cohen discussed how his legislation, the Safer Streets Act, could help end discriminatory enforcement of the law which has led to an erosion of trust in many urban areas.  See the Congressman’s exchange with all the witnesses here. 

Mosby and Congressman Cohen also discussed his Fresh Start Act (H.R. 121) and the importance of expungement of some non-violent marijuana convictions.   

Congressmen Cohen: “I’ve proposed for years – I think since my first year in Congress – the Fresh Start Act. It would say that if you have a non-violent offense and you had gone seven years without an offense in the federal system, you could get your record expunged. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to get that done. Tell me your perspective on expungement of records and how it can affect peoples’ lives.” 

Ms. Mosby: “…People are suffering from collateral consequences…as a result of a marijuana conviction…The collateral consequences extend to federal loans, it extends to housing, it extends to adoption, it extends to access to health care. These collateral consequences extend to employment, professional licenses – I mean, every sort of the basic necessities of life.” 

Also testifying at today’s hearing were: 

  • Dr. David L. Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation of Princeton, New Jersey; 
  • Mr. Neal Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Cannabis Trade Federation of Denver, Colorado; and 
  • Dr. G. Malik Burnett, Chief Operating Officer of Tribe Companies LLC of Washington, D.C.