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By Jonathan D. Salant for NJ.Com
"Public opinion is changing on this issue," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. "Congress is behind. We need to catch up.
"Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
"Public opinion is changing on this issue," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. "Congress is behind. We need to catch up."
Two pro-marijuana groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Combined, they brought about 400 people to Washington. "It's about making sure they're acting on the wishes of their constituents," said one of them, Noah Mamber, a lawyer from Franklin Lakes.
Legalizing weed is 'not a matter of if, but when,' Booker says
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said Congress is moving toward ending the federal prohibition on marijuana.
Their agenda included Gaetz's research act -- he spoke at both press conferences --as well as bills preventing the federal government from enforcing its prohibition in states that have legalized the drug and allowing marijuana businesses to act just like everyone else with checking accounts and credit cards.
"It is basically inevitable that federal law will yield to the states," said Aaron Smith, executive director of the cannabis industry trade group.
"We're seeing more and more members coming to the table," Lee said. "We're opening doors to research. We're saying to the federal government, 'Stop meddling in state and local cannabis laws."
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, called the effort to legalize marijuana "one of the most dynamic movements taking place across the county."
"It's been fascinating to watch," said Blumenauer, D-Ore.
Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif., pointed to the Capitol building that formed the backdrop when he spoke.
"You have a big job to do," he told the advocates. "Your mission is simple: Let them in the building know what the will of the people is."