WASHINGTON, D.C. (KTUU) “I’ve never used marijuana, never inhaled either,” said Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young during a press conference Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.
But he does, however, believe in state’s rights.
Young and three other members of Congress announced Thursday the creation of the newest caucus on Capitol Hill – the Cannabis Caucus.
Its goal is to keep federal policies from standing in the way of states that have passed legislation that allows the use of medical and recreational use of marijuana.
“Alaska voted to legalize it, a pretty large margin, and I believe in state’s rights and the federal government should stay out of it, period,” said Young.
The co-chairs of the bipartisan effort include two Republicans and two Democrats: Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, Young, and Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado.
28 states have legalized medical marijuana, eight of those including the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of pot. In addition, Rohrabacher said Thursday that 44 states have enacted some sort of law in various degrees allowing cannabis.
“We’re stepping forward together to say we got to make major changes in our country’s attitude towards cannabis and if we do, many people will live better lives and it’s going to be better for our country and better for our people,” said Rohrabacher.
Blumenauer said the caucus will be focusing on areas such as keeping the federal government from blocking medical marijuana research, making sure veterans have access to marijuana and making it easier for businesses to operate.
“I’ve watched where a great amount of surplus cash is available, it causes a lot of sideline problems,” Young said. “My goal is to make sure that if I’m in a business, which we have quite a few in Alaska now, they can run this as a business. Get loans from banks and put the revenue back into the banks as every other business does.”
The caucus also comes at a time with the uncertainty of the marijuana industry with a new administration. But members said Thursday that they are hopeful President Donald Trump will maintain a commitment he made during the campaign that marijuana should be a state issue.
They hope the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will follow suit.
Members also expect strong interest from their peers in joining the group based on the growing trend across the country.
Meanwhile, Young is already working on marijuana specific legislation.
According to a spokesperson, Congressman Young is exploring legislative options in addressing the issue of marijuana use and it not effecting someone’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.