The title of this blog post is an apparent question posed by some of my readers. I will admit, I find the idea of a presidential candidate legalizing marijuana while they are in office interesting. However, that is not the focus of this blog post. I want to talk about the broader effect legalization would have on our society. I have been thinking about this for some time, but yesterday, reading about the history of marijuana legalization, the subject struck me as sufficiently important to write about.
There are hundreds of articles online today about whether or not Joe Biden would ever legalize marijuana if it’s sponsored by Republicans. But who cares? It’s not about that, it’s about the fact that Joe Biden had a rough week.
If you aren’t actively following the marijuana legalization movement at the current time, then you are probably living under a rock. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the latest person from the Trump administration to take a hard stance against marijuana. In a recent interview he stated that “it is time to end the federal policies that prohibit states from carrying out their own marijuana policies.” While President Donald Trump recently gave Sessions the green light, it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to make good on his promise.If nine out of 10 Americans think marijuana should be legal for adults – and according to an April Pew Research poll, it is – then the obvious question arises: Why hasn’t Congress approved the federal legalization of marijuana? USA – 28. APRIL : Members of the DC Marijuana Justice community hold 51 puffy joints … [+] CQ-ROLL CALL, INC VIA GETTY IMAGES The closest we’ve come to national cannabis reform was last December, when the House of Representatives passed the legalization bill for the first time by a majority vote. As expected, this move was symbolic: The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Exemption Act (or MORE Act) was not considered in the Senate by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (It probably didn’t help that its author was then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), the vice president-elect.) Now that Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is a big supporter of legalization, will things change for the better? On Friday, House Democrats reintroduced MORE, a bill that would take cannabis out of the federal Controlled Substances Act, remove some marijuana offenses from criminal records and send money to people and communities affected by the war on drugs. But this time around, there are competing approaches to cannabis legalization on Capitol Hill, including a business-friendly legalization bill sponsored by House Republicans. If a divided Senate rejects the progressive vision of marijuana legalization, and if President Joe Biden is not unhappy with progressive policies in general, can the moderate option proposed by Republicans and supported by the marijuana industry be an acceptable compromise? U.S. President Joe Biden eats an ice cream at the Honey Hut Ice Cream Cafe in Cleveland, Ohio, 27. May 2021. … [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES A rival to the MORE Act is the so-called Cannabis Reform Act for veterans, small businesses and medical professionals. The bill is sponsored by Representative Dave Joyce of Ohio and Representative Don Young of Alaska, both Republicans. The bill does some of what MORE is supposed to do, with one very important difference: Elements of reinvestment and opportunity are missing. Instead, the bill legalizes interstate cannabis commerce, encourages research on medical cannabis, and gives military veterans access. The Food and Drug Administration and the Treasury Department will be responsible for regulating the domestic marijuana industry and must issue federal guidance within a year of the law’s passage. For all these reasons, the pro-cannabis lobby in Washington has warmly welcomed the Republican-led legalization effort. There are other differences between the two bills on key issues such as taxes and research, as well as social justice reform. But what does it matter what the bill says if it never becomes law? If the authors of the MORE Act want to achieve more than a superficial statement, they will need the help of Republicans, and a lot of help. Passing legislation in the Senate, where complicated rules require at least 60 votes to pass most major bills, requires the support of 10 Republicans and all Democrats. And since several Democrats in the Senate have already spoken out against legalization, that seems unlikely unless there is a significant change in the dynamic on Capitol Hill. This gives new life to Joyce and Young’s Republican legalization proposal. This would be the case even if President Joe Biden, the de facto leader of the Democrats, had not shown great reluctance to radically change marijuana policy. (According to an April briefing by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Biden wants to move cannabis to Schedule II, a half-measure that would destroy the cannabis industry as it exists today.) The current MORE Act is even more progressive than the version Congress passed last winter. This could become a real sticking point for Republicans in both houses of Congress. Only five Republicans signed the MORE Act in December – and 168 voted against it. In other words, if MORE received as much support in the Senate as it did in the House, it would fail. It may be several months before any of the bills are considered. If conservative senators can’t support MORE legislation for whatever reason – it’s too opaque, too Democratic – an alternative that achieves many of the same goals could be an attractive compromise, especially if it has a chance of being passed. After all, that’s what the people want.While Barack Obama has grown the federal government’s powers when it comes to marijuana, his Vice President Joe Biden has said he is not for the legalization of the drug. But, who knows what will happen if Biden joins the Republican Party?. 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