NEWS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE ICBC

Tag: united states

Medical cannabis

From Gun Bans To Driving Limits: The International War On The Rights Of Medical Cannabis Users

In the United States, the Biden Administration is in favour of banning gun ownership for medical users. In Germany, there is an ongoing debate about driving limits. Such policies rely on outdated criteria to penalize cannabis users

The push to fully and federally legalize cannabis in places like the US and Germany right now is leading to some very unfortunate (and certainly rights-infringing) regulations.

In the US, as various cannabis bills languish in both the House and Senate, and Brittney Griner cools her heels in a Russian prison for possession of less than one gram of cannabis oil, the Biden Administration is (shamefully) defending a federal gun ownership ban for medical cannabis users. The issue is now front and centre in a legal battle launched by Florida agricultural commissioner Nikki Fried (a Democrat) to challenge the same. Fried is running as a Democratic challenger to the sitting Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.

No matter how one feels about gun control, the idea of punishing a sick person who takes a certain kind of medication (which could be any medication, beyond cannabis) is highly worrying. Not to mention represents grotesque discrimination against those with disabilities requiring medication.

In Germany, with a federal government now in the process of figuring out how to craft legislation for the full legalization of cannabis, one of the most controversial aspects of the same is setting drugged driving limits. Currently, drivers are charged with drugged driving if they are caught with even one nanogram of THC in their bloodstream – the smallest measurable amount possible. Both ADAC, the German version of AAA, and the working group of Traffic Court Day, an annual and highly influential congress that recommends new driving regulations to the government, are in support of the smallest limit possible.

That said, there is beginning to be a debate here about how problematic that is for medical users – particularly as they have a continual THC presence in their blood, even if not “high.” Beyond these heavier users of course, even a light recreational user can show traces of cannabinoids in their blood up to 60 days after their last joint. While nobody wants stoned drivers on the speed limit-free Autobahn, there needs to be some kind of compromise – not to mention some kind of technology deployment to the police – which can differentiate between recent enough use to impair driving and a THC blood level that shows constant use.

No matter where this kind of debate is taking place, however, it is clear that such questions have never been answered – and any new regulations are likely to be controversial enough to end up in court. Legislators are unlikely to be able to figure this out on their own.

Germany, united states

US Germany

Germany Or The U.S.: Who Will Go First On Federal Cannabis Reform?

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act introduced in the U.S. Senate in late July, removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allows states to legalize recreational cannabis. How are American developments stacking up to current events aus Deutschland?

Ironically, just two days after Burkhard Blienert addressed the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin about pending German reform and outlined a rough schedule for legislative passage, a cannabis reform bill was introduced in the US Senate by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

A Side By Side Comparison

While German politicians are still unwilling to unveil details of the pending legislation until later this fall, the US version is now available for review and debate. The American bill specifically proposes removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act – an issue still of some contention in Germany. Beyond this, it would create a tax on cannabis product sales, expunge the records of those with past cannabis convictions, and allows federal prisoners serving time for nonviolent cannabis convictions to petition for resentencing. The legislation, if passed, would also establish a national regulatory framework to protect public health and safety.

In Europe, things are still less specific, although first-of-their-kind multilateral talks have now been launched between Malta, Luxembourg, and Germany. Beyond the information gleaned from the hearings in June, European lawmakers are now considering how to proceed not only on a national but regional level.

One of the standing questions on this side of the pond is how individual countries and the region itself will handle the actual legalization itself, including removing cannabis from sovereign narcotics laws as well as regulations at the EU level. There seems to be less interest in dealing with issues like racial justice, although there will clearly be a discussion about how to handle those with both convictions and those who are currently in jail for nonviolent cannabis offenses.

The discussion about taxing cannabis based on the levels of THC found in products and plants appears, for now, to be just a European debate.

The Likely Path To Passage

Right now, the US Senate is the main battleground for cannabis reform. Various bills have passed the House over the last decade only to be shot down in the Senate. It is also unclear whether Schumer has enough bipartisan support to carry the bill through to passage this time – and whether, once also passed in the House, the reconciliation between both bills could happen before the midterm elections.

On the other hand, the German timetable for reform is more likely to create a bill that passes both the Bundestag and Bundesrat, and further on a timetable now alluded to by national politicians.

For these reasons, while it is also very plausible that both debates will drive each other, it seems that Germany (and beyond that Europe) is likely to take the plunge into recreational reform on a schedule ahead of the US.

Germany, united states

mexico flag

Cannabis Smuggling Continues To Decline Along US/Mexico Border

Cannabis advocates have long pointed out that when cannabis is prohibited, people still consume it. That may seem obvious, however, cannabis prohibitionists try very hard to pretend that it’s not the case.

Under prohibition, cartels largely control cannabis sales. That is not to say that every single piece of cannabis is cartel controlled. Surely there are people cultivating small amounts where cannabis is prohibited and presumably some of them are selling it to other people.

In a regulated cannabis system, many consumers and patients will gladly make their purchases at licensed outlets, even if it is a little more expensive compared to unregulated sources.

That is on full display along the border shared by the United States and Mexico where cannabis seizures continue to decline year after year as legalization continues to spread north of the border. Below is more information about the latest numbers via a news release from NORML:

Washington, DC: Federal officials report a significant drop in the quantity of marijuana they are seizing at the US international border, according to data compiled by the US Department of Homeland Security.

According to reporting provided by borderreport.com, “Department of Homeland Security agencies in FY2021 seized 160 tons of marijuana, an average of 874 pounds a day. With three months left in the current fiscal year, agents have seized 56 tons, an average of 408 pounds a day.”

The year-over-year decline in marijuana-related seizures at the border is in stark contrast to more generalized data showing a 25 percent increase in overall drug-related seizures. However, it is consistent with longstanding trends previously reported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration that determined, “In US markets, Mexican marijuana has largely been supplanted by domestic-produced marijuana.”

Separate data provided earlier this year by the US Government Accounting Office reported that “most drug seizure events [at the US border] involved only US citizens (91 percent), of which 75 percent involved the seizure of marijuana and no other drugs.” Of those seizures, 69 percent involved only personal use quantities of cannabis.

Additional information on drug-related border seizures is available from the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

Mexico, united states

united states congress

Will The United States Ever Legalize Cannabis Federally?

The negative impact of cannabis prohibition in the United States goes far beyond the country’s borders. Every country around the world enacts its own cannabis laws, however, prohibition in the U.S. largely drove prohibition abroad over the years.

Yet, whereas much of the world followed the United States’ lead when it came to enacting prohibition policies, countries such as Uruguay, Canada, and Malta didn’t wait around and have zoomed past the U.S. when it comes to ending cannabis prohibition for adult use.

For that matter, many states within the U.S. have already taken matters into their own hands and passed legalization measures at the state level. Every passing year seems to result in more states passing legalization either via legislative action or through the ballot box.

Lawmakers at the federal level have tried for some time, to varying degrees, to pass an adult-use legalization measure. Unfortunately, it has failed to happen, with bill after bill dying a slow death in Congress.

There is optimism that something could happen this session in Congress, with the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act finally being introduced in the Senate. The measure was teased for quite some time prior to being introduced and was essentially hyped as a measure that the Senate could finally support after the Senate has failed repeatedly to pass measures previously passed by the House.

I don’t personally have a lot of hope for this specific measure passing, partially because some advocates do not think that it goes far enough, and mostly because Congress is dysfunctional, and getting anything reasonable passed these days seems to be extremely difficult.
Only time will tell. No one knows for sure when cannabis will be legalized federally in the U.S., and anyone that says otherwise is likely trying to sell you something.

Below is more information about the newly introduced Senate measure via a news release from our friends at the National Cannabis Industry Association (sent to us via email on June 21st):

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) along with Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) which is now the Senate’s only pending legislation that would provide comprehensive cannabis policy reforms across the nation.

The landmark bill would remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act and move regulatory responsibility from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies to protect public health and safety. The legislation would also allow the state-regulated medical and adult-use cannabis industries already in place in 37 states to operate without federal interference.

The Senate Democrats’ CAOA would also institute a federal excise tax of 5-25% on cannabis on top of the already-hefty state taxes imposed on the industry, concerning advocates for small cannabis businesses and equity operators.

“We applaud the authors of this legislation for working to bring federal law into harmony with the states and the vast majority of voters who have called for an end to prohibition,” said Aaron Smith, co-founder and chief executive officer of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “We look forward to working with Senators on both sides of the aisle to improve the tax provisions in this bill on behalf of small cannabis businesses and eventually pass it into law.”

The long-awaited CAOA Act was introduced after a bill sponsors circulated a discussion draft last year. NCIA and other advocacy organizations provided comprehensive feedback to the bill’s authors last year. Notable changes to the legislation include:

  • Increases the permissible THC by dry weight from the current 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent and refines the definition of “hemp,” and consequently “cannabis” by taking into account the total THC in a cannabis product, rather than just delta-9 THC.

  • Changes to the weight quantity to qualify a person for felony cannabis distribution or possession charge under the section from 10 pounds to 20 pounds.

  • Provides that a court shall automatically, after a sentencing review, expunge each federal cannabis conviction, vacate any remaining sentence, and resentence the defendant as if this law had been in place prior to the original sentencing.

  • Enables a noncitizen who has received a deportation order based on a cannabis-related offense to file a motion to reconsider that decision. If the motion to reconsider is filed within 30 days of the removal order, the motion may allow for the cancellation of the deportation order.

  • Establishes a new 10-year intermediary lending pilot program in which SBA would make direct loans to eligible intermediaries that in turn make small business loans to startups, businesses owned by individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, and socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses.

  • Removes the requirement to maintain a bond for any cannabis business that had less than $100,000 in excise tax liability in the prior year and reasonably expects excise tax liability in the current year to be below such amount.

  • Incorporates rules similar to rules currently applicable to permitted malt beverage producers and wholesalers.

Whitney Economics submitted a report outlining concerns with the tax plan, finding that the CAOA would impose an additional $1.1 billion in taxes on the already-struggling and cannabis industry.

“Introducing this far-reaching bill is a historic and important effort but we hope that the Senate moves quickly to pass the bi-partisan SAFE Banking Act which would provide tangible and immediate relief to small businesses and improve public safety by opening access to banking and financial services in our industry,” added Smith.

The SAFE Banking Act has been approved by the House of Representatives seven times and the Senate version of the bill (S. 910) enjoys the support of a bipartisan group of 43 co-sponsors but has yet to be brought to a vote in that chamber.

Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 19 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 37 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. The substance is legal in some form in 47 states.

###

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization broadly representing cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and works toward a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States.

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mexico united states border

Limited U.S. Legalization Continues To Hurt Cartels In Mexico

Historically, the United States has served as the largest cannabis market on earth, and for many decades that market was completely illegal. These days, medical and/or adult-use cannabis dispensaries are located in a growing number of states, although cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level. The rising number of state-legal outlets in the U.S. is having a direct, negative impact on cartels in Mexico according to a new report from U.S. Congressional researchers.

Throughout prohibition in the U.S. cannabis smuggled into the country from Mexico largely supplied the unregulated U.S. market. Having lived my entire life on the West Coast of the U.S., and consuming cannabis for nearly 3 decades now, I can personally attest that ‘brickweed’ from Mexico was once very common around here. That is no longer the case.

The Rise Of Safe Access

Cartels in Mexico benefitted greatly from cannabis prohibition in the United States. The cannabis that they smuggled into the United States was awful and was presumably contaminated with all kinds of nasty stuff. Unfortunately, for many consumers and patients, it was all that was available. That started to change drastically in 1996 when California became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use in the U.S.

Once California passed a medical cannabis measure, it opened the floodgates to other states following suit, almost all of which created safe, legal access to cannabis in some manner. Every dispensary and delivery service that opened up at the state level, especially in the Western United States, diverted money to state-licensed cannabis outlets that would have otherwise likely gone to cartel operations.

The shift in consumer purchasing habits further accelerated in 2014 when Colorado and Washington State launched adult-use cannabis sales. With state medical programs, patients had to be registered in order to frequent dispensaries. Now that consumers of legal age from all over the country (and the world for that matter) can make legal purchases of regulated products through licensed outlets there’s literally no good reason for people to ever purchase cartel cannabis ever again, hence the drop in cannabis revenue for cartels.

Proof Of Concept

Many valid reasons exist regarding why cannabis should be legalized, with a popular one being to defund cartels. Cartels have caused so much misery over so many years, and any dollar that can be prevented from going their way is always a good thing. Legalization in the United States is proving to be extremely successful on that front, as demonstrated by the latest Congressional report.

Cartels still smuggle cannabis into the U.S., and still set up illegal grows on public lands in the U.S. However, that business model is becoming less viable with every passing year as consumers continue to migrate towards legal options. Imagine when cannabis is legal nationwide in the United States. Obviously, once all consumers and patients in every state can go the legal route, there will be no room for cartel cannabis in the country, assuming that regulations are sensible and prices are at least somewhat competitive.

Just as legalization will continue to succeed in the United States, so too will it succeed elsewhere, and in the process, eliminate cartel cannabis worldwide. When cannabis is illegal, cartels will fill the void. After all, consumers and patients don’t refrain from consuming cannabis just because it is illegal. They will continue to seek out sources for cannabis, and cartels will always be willing to meet the demand. The more that the legal cannabis industry is allowed to operate the more it can directly address the cartel cannabis issue, and when that happens, everyone wins (except for the cartels).

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Canadian currency money

Researchers Identify Two Main Motivating Factors Behind Unregulated Cannabis Purchases

Legal cannabis is spreading across the planet, and with it, purchasing freedoms for some consumers. Yet, the unregulated market still exists even where cannabis can be purchased legally. Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario recently examined the factors that motivate a consumer or patient to purchase unregulated cannabis versus regulated cannabis in North America in an attempt to understand why the unregulated market still exists in Canada despite legalization, and to a lesser extent, the United States.

By human history standards, cannabis prohibition is a relatively new thing. After all, cannabis is not a new plant and humans have used it for medical and recreational purposes for centuries. It wasn’t until the last century that political forces prohibited it. Fortunately, three countries have now legalized cannabis for adult use – Uruguay, Canada, and Malta. Cannabis can be legally acquired in some form in Uruguay and Canada, and soon, Malta.

Out of the three countries, Canada has the most robust industry model. Cannabis consumers of legal age from anywhere around the planet can come to Canada and make a legal purchase through a storefront dispensary, through the mail, and/or through delivery services. Similar options have existed in the U.S. at the state level for many years. Researchers have kept a close eye on North America as the ‘cannabis experiment’ has continued to roll out, including researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

Motivating Factors

The average cannabis consumer is more sophisticated now than arguably any other time in human history, and that is largely due to the options available to them, particularly in Canada. Some consumers want to smoke cannabis flower, some want to vaporize it, and still, many others prefer smokeless forms of cannabis such as edibles and topicals.

Regulated industries boost the options for patients and consumers. I live in a legal jurisdiction, and the different types of cannabis products and consumption methods are exponentially greater now compared to when there was no regulated market With that being said, the unregulated market still exists where I live, albeit at a much lower level than before legalization.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario looked at consumer data from 2019 and 2020. The data was compiled as part of the annual International Cannabis Policy Study. Survey data asked consumers about their purchasing habits over the past 12 months, and when they indicated that they purchased cannabis from an unregulated source they were provided a list of reasons to select from regarding what motivated the unregulated purchase.

“‘Legal sources had higher prices’ was the number-one answer in Canada in both years (35.9% in 2019, 34.6% in 2020) as well as in the United States (27.3% in 2019, 26.7% in 2020). Convenience (both ‘legal sources were less convenient’ and ‘legal stores were too far away/there are none where I live’) was high on the list as well, with the percentage of respondents who named these as reasons ranging from 10.6% to 19.8%.” researchers stated in their press release.

Sensible Regulations To Help Boost Legal Sales

On average, the cost of legal cannabis will always be greater than unregulated cannabis. A legal cannabis company has to pay ongoing licensing and compliance fees, rent on their commercial facilities, and a number of other operational costs that do not exist in the unregulated market. All of those added layers contribute to the overall cost of legal cannabis.

Speaking anecdotally, I am willing to pay extra for legal cannabis being that it is tested and regulated. However, there is a point to how much more I am willing to pay, and I assume many consumers are the same as me in that regard. Paying 10% more is reasonable, however, if legal cannabis costs 2-4 times as much as unregulated cannabis, clearly many people will choose to go the unregulated route.

The second motivating factor identified by the researchers, convenience, is much easier to address from a public policy standpoint. Boosting the ways in which consumers and patients can legally acquire cannabis helps a considerable amount. Conversely, the fewer ways people can legally acquire cannabis the more it creates opportunities for unregulated sources to fill the void and meet the demand. Jurisdictions that choose to cling to prohibition or hinder safe access do so at their own peril.

Lawmakers around the world need to do everything that they can to strike the right balance between regulating cannabis, generating public revenue, and implementing sensible regulations that help keep the cost of legal cannabis down as much as reasonably possible. Everyone needs to temper their expectations when it comes to getting rid of the unregulated market. Just as there will always be a market for unregulated alcohol, so too will there always be an unregulated market for cannabis, at least to some degree.

Canada, united states

cannabis plant flower garden indoor

Australian Researchers Examine Motivation Behind Increased Support For Legalization

Support for adult-use cannabis legalization is stronger now at the global level than at any other time since the start of international cannabis prohibition. Now that Uruguay, Canada, and Malta have passed national cannabis legalization measures and the sky didn’t fall, that should only further add to the momentum for legalization in other countries.

Researchers in Australia recently examined survey data in an attempt to try to identify why support for cannabis legalization has risen in recent decades, specifically in the United States. The researchers leading the study were all affiliated with The University of Queensland, and they examined, “historical changes in legalization attitudes and the period-specific individual and external influences on these.”

“A systematic search was conducted for publications in PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO up to October 2019. Six studies with a regionally or nationally representative adult US-based populations were included.” the researchers stated regarding their methodology.

“A secondary analysis was conducted using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Hierarchical age-period-cohort analysis assessed the trends in perceived harmfulness and availability of cannabis between 1996 and 2018. Ecological comparisons were made between these perceptions and support for cannabis legalization over time.” the researchers went on to state.

The researchers determined that support for adult-use cannabis legalization started to increase considerably in the 1990s, and that the increase continued in a linear fashion until 2019. That is reflected in the results of Gallup’s annual cannabis legalization poll, a graph of which can be seen below:

Gallup polling cannabis legalization 2021

Gallup’s polling is particularly useful because they have asked the same question every year since 1969. As you can clearly see, support for legalization was a dismal 25% in the mid-1990s, and it continued to rise nearly every year through 2020 when it leveled off at 68%.

“Most people developed more liberal views, with no evidence that changes within any one sociodemographic group was disproportionately responsible for the overall attitudinal change. Increases in the proportion of people who use cannabis, non-religious population and political liberalism may partially explain the increased support for legalization.” the researchers determined.

“The decline in perceived harmfulness of cannabis, as reflected in the media, may have contributed to the increased support for legalization.” the researchers stated.

“The US population has become more accepting of cannabis legalization. The attitudinal change is related to changes in the perceived risks and benefits of cannabis use, influenced by broader political and cultural changes over the study period.” the researchers concluded.

The researchers obviously have their views regarding why cannabis legalization has increased, however, I don’t necessarily agree with all of their conclusions. I definitely do not think that there was a ‘decline in the perceived harmfulness of cannabis reflected in the media.’

To back up that personal belief, I would point to the ongoing ‘coverage’ by media companies that are blatant reefer madness propaganda. Mainstream media outlets still regularly provide cannabis opponents access to their platforms and allow them to publish nonsense without any attempt to fact-check it from what I can tell. What has changed is the increased volume of peer-reviewed studies regarding cannabis, and the increased availability and awareness of the results of those studies, many of which directly refute long-standing anti-cannabis talking points.

I also don’t think that increasing support for cannabis legalization is the direct result of an increase in ‘political liberalism’ being that support for cannabis legalization has increased among voters from all major political parties. I personally believe that there are two major factors at play in the recorded increase in support for legalization, and this goes for polling data in the United States and everywhere else.

First, many people have always supported legalization and are only now willing to admit it since prohibition is crumbling and the stigma is reducing. Secondly, people that were on the fence about cannabis legalization quickly move to the ‘supporter’ category when they see that legalization is working wherever it is allowed.

Once legalization goes from a hypothetical to implementation, and it works, many cannabis prohibition talking points instantly die in the minds of many voters. The legalization supporter base expands to non-consumers that just want to see sensible public policy enacted. It also expands to people that want to see society reap the economic benefits of a regulated industry. That is likely why you see polling results continue to improve as legalization continues to spread, at least in my opinion.

australia, united states

united states congress

Will The US House Vote On Cannabis Reform Mean Anything?

The vote is important in keeping the issue in front of lawmakers in the US and other places, but will it mean any change this year, anywhere?

As of the second quarter of 2022, there is a great deal of talk about the need for full and final cannabis reform in both the US and of course much of Europe. However, last week’s House vote to legalize cannabis reform in the US is a straw man that is unlikely to lead to real change this year – anywhere.

In the US, the legislation must now pass the Senate, which is unlikely. Across the pond in Europe, specifically Germany, politicians are diddling with specifics while claiming they are too busy on more pressing issues to give this entire issue prioritization.

Why Is the Final Step So Hard?

For those in the industry as well as patients, there are large issues that have not been solved. The first of course is the fact that the UN has refused to remove cannabis from international drug scheduling as a Schedule I drug. This creates a convenient leaf to hide behind for those who are being pushed politically into reform they would otherwise continue to ignore.

See Germany right now, beyond the US.

However, this Catch-22 is already being challenged within Europe. Both Luxembourg and Malta as well as presumably Portugal, are moving ahead with their legalization plans. Holland now is on the verge of a nationally regulated recreational market. And indeed, the intent of the UN in not removing cannabis from the global Schedule I designation was not stagnation but rather to let individual countries deal with the issue themselves.

The bottom line is that tight control of the cannabis plant benefits only the pharmaceutical industry, which is trying to keep the drug as expensive as possible.

Even this strategy, however, is not working. In Germany right now, the entire industry is now hanging on recreational reform to increase sales as medical approvals have stalled.

Reform NOW!

Excuses being what they are, it is entirely likely that the German recreational market will not happen for several more years. This is because so far there has been little taste to actually decriminalize the plant, much less its cultivation until there is a plan for a recreational market in place.

This is unlike the US (for example) where state markets have been able to move the entire issue forward on a federal level – but only to a certain point.

Regardless, in two of the world’s largest federal markets right now, reform still hangs in the balance. And that is a status quo that is overdue for change.

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united states congress

Temper Expectations For United States Cannabis Legalization

For the second time this decade, the United States House of Representatives passed a cannabis legalization measure. The MORE Act would, in broad terms, legalize cannabis at the federal level in the United States. Cannabis has been prohibited at the federal level in the United States since 1937, although dozens of states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis for adult use since 1996.

The successful vote in the United States Congress’ lower chamber came largely along party lines (220-204) with 3 Republicans breaking with their party and voting for the measure, and 2 Democrats breaking with their party and voting against the measure. The successful vote was understandably hailed by cannabis reform organizations and lawmakers.

Earl Blumenauer

“As we mark fifty years of the devastating war on drugs it is past time for Congress to catch up with the public and majority of states who have legalized some form of cannabis, and pass legislation to decriminalize the adult-use of recreational cannabis.” stated Congressman Earl Blumenauer from Oregon in a press release. Earl Blumenauer has previously spoken at International Cannabis Business Conference events.

Blumenauer went on to say, “The MORE Act decriminalizes cannabis at the federal level and provides restorative justice for communities which have suffered from the disproportionate and deliberate enforcement of cannabis prohibitions. Today’s vote to pass the MORE Act in the U.S. House of Representatives is one step to ending the deplorable, misguided war on drugs. It is also a critical turning point.

I have spent time talking to parents of children with seizure disorders, veterans suffering from PTSD, small businesses, and the very communities who have been unfairly impacted by the war on drugs, and they all agree: the federal government must end the failed prohibition on marijuana.

Today’s passage of the MORE Act brings us one step closer to winning the fight.” Blumenauer concluded.

Organization’s Reactions

“With voter support for legal cannabis at an all-time high and more and more states moving away from prohibition, we commend the House for once again taking this step to modernize our federal marijuana policies,” stated NCIA Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Aaron Smith in a media press release sent to our outlet. Smith is a regular speaker at International Cannabis Business Conference events. “Now is the time for the Senate to act on sensible reform legislation so that we can finally end the failure of prohibition and foster a well regulated marketplace for cannabis.”

“This vote is a clear indicator that Congress is finally listening to the vast majority of voters who are sick and tired of our failed marijuana criminalization policies and the damage they continue to inflict in communities across the nation every day,” said NORML’s Political Director Morgan Fox in a press release sent to our outlet. “It is long overdue that we stop punishing adults for using a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol, and that we work to address the disparate negative impacts that prohibition has inflicted on our most vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities for nearly a century.

Toi Hutchinson, President and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project stated in a press release, “The time has come for federal lawmakers to put aside partisan differences and recognize that state-level legalization policies are publicly popular, successful, and are in the best interests of our country. Now that the House has once again supported sensible and comprehensive cannabis policy reform, we strongly urge the Senate to move forward on this issue without delay.”

“The fact that the House has repeatedly passed the MORE Act is indicative of the cannabis policy movement’s evolution and the growing momentum toward comprehensive reform at the federal level. While this is historic in nature and warrants praise, it is necessary to also recognize that the fight is still far from over. To this day, people across the country are still experiencing the damaging effects of the war on cannabis, while others are profiting in the industry. Following today’s action in the House, it is now time for the U.S. Senate to follow suit and take up the MORE Act. We at the Marijuana Policy Project remain committed to ending cannabis prohibition for all and will continue to fight until that becomes our reality.”

Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement after the bill’s passage: “Thanks to the House’s leadership, today we are one step closer to seeking justice for the countless communities that have been devastated as a result of cruel and racially-targeted marijuana prohibition. And though it will not erase the pain millions of people have experienced; restore the economic, educational and career opportunities they have been robbed of; or give them back the time they have lost with their families, passage of the MORE Act does provide hope that a better future lies ahead – one where arrest records are wiped clean, new opportunities to take part in the legal marijuana industry exist, and desperately needed resources are redirected back into the communities that have been most harmed. Now, it’s up to the Senate to finish the job – it must begin to deliver on long overdue justice to end the status quo of racist and counterproductive enforcement. With more than two-thirds of Americans in favor of reform, it should be a swift and easy choice.”

“We want to thank House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Reps. Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, and Nydia Velazquez for their extraordinary work in shaping and advancing this bill. We also want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn for ensuring the success of this bill.”

Keeping The Vote In Perspective

The celebration by cannabis reform organizations and lawmakers is understandable. After all, it’s only the second time in U.S. history that the House has passed an adult-use cannabis legalization measure. With that being said, cannabis advocates need to temper their expectations and look at what happened two years ago to gain insight into what may, or may not, happen next.

In 2020 the MORE Act was passed in the House just to run into a dead-end in the Senate. Being that the latest version of the MORE Act is very close to being the same as the 2020 version and that the makeup of the United States Senate is also largely the same with a few exceptions, it’s a safe bet to expect the same result for the MORE Act. It’s a very, very safe bet that current United States President Joe Biden will not be championing the legislation.

To be clear, if the MORE Act does not receive a fair shot at a vote in the U.S. Senate it would clearly be a slap in the face of democracy. The current roster in the United States Senate, as always, is the result of citizens voting for lawmakers with the expectation that they will carry out the will of the voters. Per Gallup’s most recent poll, a whopping 68% of U.S. voters support ending federal cannabis prohibition. With such a huge level of bipartisan support for legalization, it will be glaringly obvious if the Senate doesn’t pass the bill that the decision to do so would be based on reefer madness ideology, and not on the popular opinion among the Senators’ constituents.

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