If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 420 times: cannabis law reform can only advance so far before it hits the wall of federal prohibition – and no matter what laws are passed by individual states, whatever gains have been made can never be safe.
This is why the results from last year’s elections were so important. With Democrats gaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Pete Sessions (R-TX) losing his congressional seat, many – including myself – wondered whether or not 2019 would be the ‘Year of Federal Marijuana Law Reform’.
Three months into the new Congressional session, many signs of movement can be seen. “We are seeing more support and momentum for federal reform in Congress than ever before,” Mason Tvert, Media Relations Director for The Marijuana Policy Project, told The Marijuana Times. “Of course, we would like to see lawmakers moving faster to address these big issues, but they are moving faster than in previous years, and we’re seeing some real gains being made.”
For an organization like MPP, federal marijuana law reform is like the Super Bowl (for those of you who are really into sports analogies). Battling on the ground in D.C., they see what has the best chance of working and what has a real shot at getting through the morass that is the federal legislature. “We expect the protections for state medical marijuana laws that are currently in place to be renewed in the annual spending bill,” Mason told us. “It also appears like lawmakers may be ready to add a provision that would facilitate veterans’ access to medical cannabis in states where it is legal. The McClintock amendment, which would expand the current state medical law protections to all state marijuana laws, also appears like it could advance in the House this year.
“In terms of stand-alone legislation, the SAFE Banking Act was approved by the House Financial Services Committee and seems like it has a great chance of advancing to the Senate and potentially making its way to the President’s desk. The STATES Act was just reintroduced in the House and Senate by a coalition of lawmakers from both parties, and we are hopeful it will receive a hearing in the near future.”
To be sure, the GOP-controlled Senate presents a major roadblock to legalization activists. While some Republican Senators – like Cory Gardner (CO) and Rand Paul (KY) – have expressed support in the past for marijuana law reform, they may not be enough, especially when you consider that some Democratic Senators are lukewarm at best when it comes to cannabis legalization.
And then if anything should get through the full Congress, it will need the signature of President Trump. He has also expressed support for marijuana law reform in the past, but Donald Trump can be a bit, shall we say, unpredictable?
In the end, progress is good, and things could certainly be worse. If Republicans controlled the House and Pete Sessions still controlled the Rules Committee, we would be staring at 2 more years of zero movement.
We are not there yet, but we are getting closer. The time is now.