Home Legislative Are We Close to a Vote on Actual Marijuana Legislation in Congress?

Are We Close to a Vote on Actual Marijuana Legislation in Congress?

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Many of you have likely been following the saga of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595/S. 1200) currently making its way through the U.S. Congress. With over 200 co-sponsors in the House and now 33 in the Senate, the banking legislation – which would make it easier for state-legal cannabis businesses to deal with banks and credit unions – is looking more and more like it has a good chance of passing through Congress and actually making it to President Trump’s desk.

Reports indicate that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office is planning on bringing H. R. 1595 to the floor for a vote by the end of this month after it passed out of committee in the spring. On the Senate side, the bill got a rather anticlimactic committee hearing in July and has received support from various regulators and representatives of the banking and credit industries.

So this is all good news, right? Everyone in the cannabis community is on board with this possible success in the near future, yes? Well, no.

After expressing their concerns earlier this summer about the order in which the various pieces of cannabis law reform legislation were moving forward, a group of civil rights organizations that includes the ACLU and the Drug Policy Alliance sent a letter to the Democratic leadership in the House on the 17th.

“Since the start of the 116th Congress, we have expressed concern to House Leadership, the House Financial Services Committee, and member offices, that if the banking bill moved to the Floor before broader reform, it would jeopardize comprehensive marijuana reform,” the letter reads, in part. “Therefore, we have pushed for a conversation among advocates, Committee leadership, and House Leadership to formulate a plan for moving marijuana legislation in a way that is comprehensive and does not result in carve-outs for the industry and leave behind impacted communities.”

“We ask that you delay any vote on the banking bill until agreement has been reached around broader marijuana reform,” they said.

To be clear, I’m 100% for comprehensive law reform and undoing the wrongs of marijuana prohibition inasmuch as that can be accomplished. But I’ve never been a fan of full-scale halts in momentum. The notion that Congress will pass banking legislation and then let the rest fall away seems unlikely to me. It seems more likely that a victory in this smaller battle can be used to gauge support for law reform overall and help pinpoint areas where votes need to be shored up.

And what seems even more likely is that a delay in a vote on the SAFE legislation will – instead of leading to consensus on comprehensive reform – stall momentum in a Congress that is already overwhelmed with issues that are seen as more important as we move into 2020 and the biggest political circus ever seen.

In politics it seems that stalling action in favor of more talking rarely leads to more action down the road. Waiting and talking is not a luxury we have as people continue to be denied access to medicine and continue to get criminal records even though they have harmed no one.

And in the end, when you have zero wins, delaying your first win in the hopes that politicians will come through for you in the future strikes me as naïve at best.

1 COMMENT

  1. The SAFE Act could make cannabis banking legal throughout the nation by including an amendment to reconstruct the malformed federal definition of marijuana to make it uphold the Constitution. That would be a safe act for the government to take.

    The current definition has the same three deficiencies as the previous two definitions, which prevents all of those definitions from being “necessary and proper” federal laws:

    1. Instead of using the anglicized homonym “marijuana”, they use the racist term “marihuana” to imbue racism into the law. The racism misdirected the enforcement of marijuana prohibition. It dishonored the Constitution, and those who support it.

    2. Instead of clearly describing how marijuana is actually derived from cannabis, the actual meaning of marijuana is adumbrated by this riddle that has persistently existed within the circumlocutory text of those definitions: Marijuana is what thing that is “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.”, and simultaneously “does not include the mature stalks of such plant”? The embedded adumbration facilitated the federal misconstruction that marijuana is cannabis, and dishonored the Constitution.

    3. Instead of explicitly including the prohibitions of specific uses of cannabis with the clear description of marijuana, the specific prohibition of marijuana is misconstrued to also include the overreaching prohibition of cannabis. The legitimate federal prohibitions that control the undesired proliferation of marijuana can be derived from the 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments. They will establish a perimeter of limited federal prohibitions within which the states and citizens can again control the uses of legal cannabis, as the ratification of Bill of Rights and the Civil War Amendments intended.

    These deficiencies enabled the malicious government propaganda about marijuana, and allowed the people’s crippling doublethink (marijuana is a plant, marijuana is a drug) to persist for 82 years. Legislatively reconstructing the definition to mean a single disparaged thing will override the doublethink, and diffuse the propaganda. It will end the willfully ignorant federal cannabis prohibition, in preparation for the end of federal marijuana prohibition.

    Each of these deficiencies can be removed by combining the corrective phrases altogether in a reconstructed definition having the straightforward, necessary and proper format that upholds the Constitution. This will carefully deschedule cannabis while retaining the Schedule 1 status of marijuana itself, for separate consideration of its adulterated medical value.

    If more people contacted their members of Congress about simply reconstructing the malformed definition of marijuana with these points in mind, then Congress could define marijuana sensibly, like this:

    The Reconstructed Definition:

    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L., which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is their intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

    Compare to these definitions:

    1. The Original Malformed definition, from the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937:

    (b) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or resin- but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    2. The Scheduled Malformed definition, from the Controlled Substances Act of 1970:

    (16) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    3. The Severely Malformed definition, from the Farm Bill of 2018:

    (16)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.
    (B) The term “marihuana” does not include (i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or (ii) the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    4. The Misguided definition of hemp, from the Farm Bill of 2018:

    Sec. 297A. (1) HEMP. The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

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