An Update on Federal Marijuana Law Reform


We are now about 8 months into the new era of Democratic leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, and when it comes to cannabis law reform, there have been some hits and some misses, which is pretty much par for the course for most progressions in federal policy.

The good news is that progress is being made, so we have the luxury of debating on just how satisfied we are with the amount of progress. It’s easy to forget that just last year a single man had the power to make sure a marijuana bill never saw the light of day; now we’ve had multiple bills introduced, congressional hearings, a banking bill being passed out of committee and the real possibility of a comprehensive cannabis law reform plan coming up for a vote in the House in the near future.

Some will say the pace of progress has been too slow; those people have a point, but beyond that, their voices are necessary. There has to be a continuous push – and the “go faster” crowd is the engine that drives that push.

The good news is that the House will be under Democratic control at least until the end of next year, since terms in the House turn over in two-year cycles. That means there is still plenty of time to get bills to the floor and get them passed.

To be sure, next year will be the biggest political circus ever witnessed as the Dems pick someone to go head-to-head with Trump, but that could be a good thing. Very often, the best time to get things done is when most people are looking elsewhere.

Don Murphy, the Director for Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Marijuana Times that progress so far was about what he expected. “We have had historic hearings, historic votes and historic victories in the past 8 months. We have much to celebrate but still much to do. We will make more history and have more to celebrate before the congressional term ends in 2020.”

Federal law reform in this new era is a mixed bag, but there’s still plenty of time to fill up that bag. No one should be satisfied until marijuana prohibition has ended at the federal level. While that is unlikely before 2021, there are still a lot of steps to get to the point where that can be attempted.

The House is the first step. The more they talk about cannabis, the more they get used to the idea. What happens in the Senate will depend a lot on what outcomes there are in the 2020 elections. And of course, a lot hinges on who occupies the Oval Office come January 20, 2021.

But that is then and this is now. Pressure must be continually applied to members of the House; the more they hear from the voters in their districts, the more apt they are to take notice. If marijuana law reform can help them hold on to their seat, their support will be much more likely.


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