Legalizing Marijuana

Legalizing Marijuana

Legalizing Marijuana

Legalizing marijuana is once again in the news. This November, South Dakota voters will vote on their ballots regarding the legalization of marijuana use by adults. The majority of the state opposes criminalizing adults simply for possession and use of cannabis. Last week, both Chambers of the Rhode Island legislature voted to legalize and regulate the adult use cannabis market. It now heads to the Governor’s desk. If the governor signs it, it will be the 19th state to legalize marijuana for adult use.

But the hottest item on this topic was on May 16th when an article was published on Forbes website stating that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his colleagues plan to advance the conversation about Federal cannabis reform this year. In the upcoming months, Senate Democrats are going to introduce a new bill. It is known as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA).

Its main focus is about legalizing marijuana according to Forbes, “It is a long-awaited, comprehensive reform bill that will establish a Federal regulatory and tax structure for cannabis and remove the product from the Federal list of controlled substances. Once introduced, the legislation will spur a flurry of meaningful conversations about cannabis reform in the United States Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and his fellow bill drafters and policy hawks—Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) have already begun socializing the bill with both Senate Democrats and Republicans. Getting the full support of both parties is not an overnight task and will take time to gather supporters.

One thing I have realized in my research is when a bill is up for a vote on legalizing cannabis at the Federal level, it isn’t just a simple YES or NO vote. The reasons behind the decisions are based on much more. Though policymakers may agree on principle, it is the underlying portions and topics in the bill that create the split decisions.

The Issues

It is not just the criminal reform that would take place by legalizing marijuana. Even if it is made 100% legal in all fifty states, there is still the banking issues to resolve. We are talking about billions of dollars if cannabis becomes legalized. There are laws that will need to be rewritten or completely dropped. While these topics are an individual priority for several members of Congress, others want to take it a step further. They are looking for complete reform such as social equity, continuous research, and laws to prevent youth to be able to access cannabis.

Additionally, the current administration has remained fairly quiet on the issue. Then you have the Republican side, which have not yet totally embraced the issue. Some of our legislators are slowly coming on board since the states that elected them are continuing to move ahead and legalize it on their own. I would assume that elected officials find themselves in a sticky situation. If John Q. Public and his friends continue to vote in laws to make it legal in their state, could their politicians find themselves voted out of office in upcoming elections because they refuse to take a stand to keep it illegal?

The Parties Involved

On the Democratic Party side, they continue to support Federal cannabis reform , which is not surprising since 70 percent of Americans support legalization in some form. Congressional Democrats are forward thinking on their thoughts on the topic as many of the states have moved forward and passed their own legislation permitting the legalization.

When former President Barack Obama stepped into office in 2009, only thirteen states had legalized medical cannabis, and not a single state allowed for recreational adult-use cannabis. Today, thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis, and the total number of states to legalize recreational adult-use cannabis has risen to eighteen. This could become nineteen if Rhode Island’s governor signs their bill.

My research found that, according to an article in Forbes, Federal cannabis-related legislation has become an increasingly mainstream Federal issue for the Democratic Party. During the 117th Congress and 116th Congress, there have been over thirty pieces of cannabis-related legislation introduced between the House and the Senate.

The Future

Many democrats, and even some republicans, are pushing for Congress to overhaul Federal cannabis legislation. For the first time in history, with so many of our political leaders on board, this topic will continue to gain momentum in conjunction with state-led cannabis reform until it will eventually become a federal law so that all states can be on the same page and the cannabis will be legal in all fifty states. This will increase revenue, taxes, jobs and help those who experience PTSD. Stay tuned to our blog for updates as the world moves forward in this new direction.

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