U.S. Marijuana Reform Receives Bipartisan Support During Congressional Hearing, but Could Still Face Challenges
For the first time in history, significant marijuana reform is on the table among United States lawmakers, according to CNBC.
Key issues like the conflict between federal and state laws, as well as racial disparities in marijuana enforcement, all were the subject of discussion. Republicans and Democrats agreed that something needed to be done.
The only problem was that the “something” was never clear. Proponents of reform all had different ideas on how to handle the proposed changes. But the biggest challenge comes from a separate entity.
It really should come as no surprise that marijuana reform is popular among the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. But despite its bipartisan appeal, such changes do not sit well with the Republican-controlled Senate, whose support is necessary for any kind of bill to pass.
Needless to say, the road ahead will be rocky and uncertain for marijuana reform proponents.
Current Laws Failed
The failure of existing marijuana policy has been the centre of criticism for quite some time. Only recently, however, did it actually get such significant attention from policymakers.
Representative Tom McClintock (R-California) says:
“Marijuana decriminalization may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session…it ought to be crystal clear to everyone that our laws have not accomplished their goals.”
On the other side, representative Karen Bass (D-California) echoed her colleague’s sentiment:
“There is a growing consensus in this country that current marijuana laws are not appropriate and we must consider reform. Today’s hearing is a first step in that process.”
Bass is right, of course. Despite law enforcement’s dedicated efforts to stop black market cannabis and the organized crime that supplies it, the system is pouring money into a losing battle.
While it is great that so many politicians see the need for change, the issue of how to go about it is rather divisive.
Some see decriminalization as the answer, while others want more. As CNBC explains:
“Despite the optimism, lawmakers did not appear to have a clear consensus on the best approach, such as whether to give states the right to legalize on their own, remove marijuana from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, legalize it or include promote social and racial equity in marijuana laws.”
The STATES Act received the most support, which will ensure states with legal marijuana (medical or recreational) are not open to federal interference. Although the Trump administration has not taken action, the act will ensure that future governments cannot interfere.
But other plans are also on the table, such as de-scheduling marijuana, decriminalizing, legalizing and addressing racial disparity for marijuana enforcement.
With such sweeping reform, nothing short of a unified movement will lead to meaningful change. To quote Abraham Lincoln’s famous 1858 speech:
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it…A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Obviously, we cannot compare the abolition of slavery to marijuana legalization. Nor is it likely that this will lead to civil war. But the concept behind Lincoln’s speech rings true today with any kind of push for change.
The Biggest Hurdle
Even if proponents of cannabis reform were to reach an agreement, they face a much bigger challenge in the Senate. According to CNBC:
“But even if reform gains momentum in the Democratically controlled House, it’s likely to face a tougher battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes marijuana legalization.”
Full legalization is a tough sell. But given that McConnell spearheaded the movement to legalize industrial hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, he may be open to a less liberal approach, such as decriminalization.
WeedAdvisor’s Enthusiasm for Progress
Out of all the news we have covered to date, this is arguably the most significant story. While there is a plethora of news regarding legalization and small reforms in different states, at no point has marijuana reform seen such crucial consideration.
Major change may not be likely at this point, but the ball is rolling and likely will only pick up momentum. When the time comes, WeedAdvisor will happily be there to offer support and insight in what will soon be a highly successful legal marijuana industry.