US Senator Ron Wyden, R-OR, was not shy about showing support for Canada’s bold move to legalize marijuana throughout the country, releasing a statement Tuesday praising the move and sharing his hopes for similar changes at the federal level in the US. Wyden bills himself as a champion of marijuana policy reform, as he continues to work for legislation to change federal law regarding marijuana.
Wyden noted that marijuana as an illegal substance is an unnecessary draw on resources for law enforcement and also a situation that causes detriment to the lives of users. Meanwhile, the drug has been found very useful for pain management, anxiety treatment, and other areas that medical science is struggling to resolve for chronic pain sufferers and those with mental health struggles.
Wyden’s statement noted the increased public support both within Oregon and increasingly across the US in other states. He said current perceptions make for an ideal time to make the changes to federal law. Responsible regulation and taxation can lead to greater success for the country, according to Wyden.
The senator has already made moves in this direction. In 2017, he introduced legislation intended to help preserve state marijuana laws and also help start the ball rolling for federal regulations to change, legalizing marijuana use and handling taxation for the country as a whole.
Wyden also threw his support behind the Marijuana Justice Act, introduced by Sen. Cory Booker with the intent of ensuring equal justice and ending federal prohibition.
Wyden believes changes to the laws at the federal level will go a long way towards helping minority communities, who have seen the greatest impact from marijuana-related laws and struggle as a result. His efforts have been consistent throughout his time in office, which he gained in 1996 through special election.
Oregon legalized medical marijuana use in 1998, making it the first state to do so. The state also legalized recreational use and growth by individuals who were not growing marijuana for medical use in 2014.
Meanwhile, measures in 2010 to create a state licensing system and a research program to study the effects of the legislation, as well as provide assistance to those with low income and allow sales from marijuana dispensaries was defeated in the state, albeit by a narrow margin. The proposed legislation had 43% support and 56% opposition. State dispensaries were legalized in 2013.