We’re at Critical Threshold for Cannabis Reform, Congressman Says (Op-Ed)

“Having fought this battle for decades, I’m glad the House of Representatives did its job and set the stage for success in the Senate and, ultimately, for the American people.”

By Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

After decades of working on cannabis reform, we’ve reached another critical juncture: Congress passed both the comprehensive MORE Act, which is the gold standard for cannabis reform, and my medical marijuana.

A comprehensive reform was also passed in the last Congress, but it didn’t stand a chance in the Senate. Reform under Mitch McConnell’s Republican control was doomed. This year, we are sending the bill to a Senate where it has a real chance of spurring action. Currently, the Senate is led by Chuck Schumer who, along with Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, is committed to ending the failed war on drugs.

Don’t make a mistake. The reason we are right now and ready to end tragic, unjust, and misguided cannabis prohibition is because people got there first. Thirty-eight states have enacted medical marijuana, and 18 states have determined that adult use should be legal. In total, 98% of the population has access to some form of legalized cannabis because, at the state level, the fact that more than two-thirds of the public favor full legalization matters. Although the federal government is not there yet, that too is changing.

The new reality is most visible in the House, where 321 bipartisan supporters voted for the SAFE Banking Act, which would finally grant the state’s legal cannabis programs access to banking services. It has been passed in the House in one form or another six times. The industry’s access to banking services will be a big step in preventing it from being the target of robberies from coast to coast, as people recognize that they are sitting on piles of unbanked money. It will also be a big step forward for struggling dispensaries run by people of color, women, or people from low-income communities who cannot afford the added cost of security or the cost of loss. regularity of their money and their products.

Most exciting is the realization by more lawmakers that the failed war on drugs, which was largely waged against people of color and low-income neighborhoods, must be replaced with fair policies that benefit communities that have paid the price for this heavy hand and failed ban.

The Senate can bring together these elements: banking, comprehensive reform and research.

The search should be the easiest elevator, having passed both chambers and providing the key to preventing impaired people in the workplace. Currently, we do not have a good impairment test. Every week, countless people fail drug tests despite not being intoxicated, but we don’t have a test to prove it. One of the simplest and most direct impacts of ending the federal government’s stranglehold on research is finally having a test that doesn’t fail for workers and employers. This will allow us to fill critical positions in the supply chain.

My research bill will end the practice of outsourcing our research programs to Israel, the UK or Canada. It will allow America to finally have a meaningful research program without federal interference.

Having fought this battle for decades, I am glad the House of Representatives did its job and set the stage for success in the Senate and, ultimately, for the American people.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Congressional Cannabis Caucus Appoints New GOP Co-Chair Who Voted for Federal Marijuana Legalization Last Week

Image element courtesy of Tim Evanson.

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