American Leaders in Congress Debate the End of Cannabis Prohibition

AMERICAN LEADERS IN CONGRESS MOVE TOWARD THE END OF CANNABIS PROHIBITION, WITH SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION AMONG BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS

As Canada debates a restrictive and centralized form of Cannabis law reform, the United States is moving closer toward true legalization. On April 20, House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement calling for the decriminalization of Cannabis.

The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” said Minority Leader Schumer. “My thinking – as well as the general population’s views – on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do. This legislation would let the states be the laboratories that they should be, ensure that woman and minority owned business have a fair shot in the marijuana industry, invests in critical research on THC, and ensures that advertisers can’t target children – it’s a balanced approach. ”

Even in states where medical and recreational Cannabis is legal, dispensaries and businesses struggle to deal with banks and insurers. Institutions are wary of dealing with any Cannabis-related business due to federal laws, even though they are fully legal on a state level. Decriminalization would end these complications.

OPPOSITION AMONG REPUBLICANS, BUT A PRESIDENT READY TO COMPROMISE

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the record saying, “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” but President Trump has different ideas. While Sessions has rolled back key Justice Department protections for states that choose to legalize, the president has just given Colorado Cory Gardner assurances that the Federal government will not interfere with his state’s highly successful experiment with legalization.  On April 15, Senator Gardner announced the deal.

Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” said Gardner. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.

“Because of these commitments, I have informed the Administration that I will be lifting my remaining holds on Department of Justice nominees. My colleagues and I are continuing to work diligently on a bipartisan legislative solution that can pass Congress and head to the President’s desk to deliver on his campaign position.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a leader of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times that the commitment Gardner secured from Trump “another head-spinning moment. We should hope for the best, but not take anything for granted,” Blumenauer said. “Trump changes his mind constantly, and Republican leadership is still in our way.”

RECORD HIGH SUPPORT AMONG AMERICANS FOR CANNABIS LEGALIZATION– INCLUDING REPUBLICANS

As the Federal government wrestles with states on Cannabis laws, public support for legalization is the highest in fifty years. According to a Gallup poll from October 2017 For the first time ever, a majority of Republicans support legalizing, with %51 in favour. This represents a nine-point jump from a year before.

Last September, veteran Republican Senator Orin Hatch of Utah released a statement calling for Congress to investigate Cannabis as a medicine and remove legal obstacles from this goal. The statement was laced with Cannabis-related puns, reading, “It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch said. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” 
 
“I urge my colleagues to join Senator Schatz and me in our joint effort to help thousands of Americans suffering from a wide-range of diseases and disorders. In a Washington at war with itself, I have high hopes that this bipartisan initiative can be a kumbaya moment for both parties.” [3]

This would be much more amusing if the United States was not incarcerating people for non-violent Cannabis offences at an astronomical rate.

As we reported recently, Former Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner joined the board of Acreage Holdings, a major American Cannabis company. John Boehner was joined by former Massachusettes Governor Bill Weld, who recently ran as Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee alongside Gary Johnson.  Weld previously served as the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The United States, like Canada, is seeing former law enforcers and drug warriors buy into the rapidly-legalizing Cannabis industry.

Marcus Henry Weber is a health consultant and journalist covering the legalization of Cannabis in North America and the wider world. Follow him on Twitter.

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FOOTNOTES AND CITATIONS

[1] https://www.gardner.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/gardner-protects-colorados-legal-marijuana-industry
[2] https://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/schumer-announces-support-for-decriminalizing-marijuana-at-federal-level-plans-to-introduce-new-legislation-in-us-senate-
[3] https://www.hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2017/9/hatch-introduces-medical-marijuana-research-bill

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