Only a few years ago, any political discussion of legalizing marijuana or cannabis was considered a hot-button issue. Well, a lot has changed since 1996 when medicinal marijuana was legalized in California. Not only have 30 U.S. States enacted some form of legalized cannabis industry (medicinal or recreational), there now is new federal legislation to change how we view the drug moving forward. However, in recent years, cannabis professionals within the market have found themselves in a proverbial tug of war between state and federal regulations, rules and restrictions.
One of the key issues hampering many burgeoning cannabis businesses is how the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still considered cannabis to be a Schedule I drug, placing it among heroin, peyote, and LSD as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This has forced limitations on the cannabis industry, such as access to banks and traditional loans and makes it illegal to move product or materials across state lines.
However, this could be changing in the near future. Several new federal initiatives have been gaining momentum in Congress in recent weeks.
First, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced recently that he was introducing legislation to decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the DEA’s list of Schedule drugs and allow States to decide how to regulate it. “I’m doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do,” Schumer said. “I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined by the criminalization.”
Additionally, Senator Cory Booker has partnered with U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (CA) and Ro Khanna (CA) and introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
The Marijuana Justice Act would both decriminalize cannabis and expunge criminal records for use or possession of cannabis (which is enforced at far higher levels for minorities and the poor). Most importantly, it would establish a $500 million community reinvestment fund emphasizing job training for members of those neighborhoods that have been targeted by overzealous drug arrests.
Of course, not all members of the federal government are in agreement with the reconsideration of cannabis. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama era directive that prohibited federal law enforcement from interfering with state cannabis laws. However, a majority of the U.S. population is now in favor of legalizing marijuana, so it is likely that the discussion on activism by the cannabis industry and politicians will continue for some time to come.
If you have additional questions about greater cannabis legalization and how it may affect your business, please feel free to check out our Cannabis Industry page, call me at my office at 626.703.1556, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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