One of the big concerns of legal marijuana companies is that, while the state they do business in has legalized the plant, the federal government has not. With a U.S. Attorney General that’s vehemently opposed to changing pot from a Schedule I substance on par with heroin, it has seemed unlikely that a sweeping federal law would even the balance.
But Senator Chuck Schumer may surprise us.
Most Americans Want to Legalize – But is Congress Listening?
The Pew Research Center’s latest poll says six in 10 Americans want to legalize marijuana. That’s 61% of the voting population in this country. 84% believe there are health benefits to marijuana and it should be legal for medical use.
While the states have been listening and the laws are changing, the federal government is remaining stubbornly obstinate, attached to what most Americans believe are outdated laws criminalizing marijuana.
Enter Senator Chuck Schumer, the Minority Leader from New York. N April he announced he had plans to introduce new federal legislation to legalize marijuana. In Politico, Schumer stated “I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long. Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do.”
This effort to decriminalize federal pot laws comes at a time when President Trump’s Attorney General has turned back Obama-era recommendations that made it easier for states to legalize.
Interestingly, former House Speaker, Republican John Boehner just joined the board of a marijuana dispensary. Are the Republicans turning over a new leaf?
New Law Would Boost Pot Business
The new federal bill would eliminate pot from the 1970 legislation that listed marijuana as a Schedule I drug by the DEA. These are defined as, “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” On the list includes LSD, heroin, ecstasy, and cannabis.
But increasing research shows that marijuana is not highly addictive and has a number of beneficial medical effects. Business Insider just published an article on the positive medical benefits of pot, pointing out even the National Institute on Drug Abuse has an entire list of health-related uses for pot, including treating childhood epilepsy, reducing pain and inflammation, and helping with nausea, to name a few.
More Republicans are even getting on the pot plant bandwagon, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offering legislation to remove criminal penalties for growing hemp, a byproduct of the marijuana plant that is non-psychoactive.
With 30 states and D.C. legalizing marijuana, and more coming this summer, and public acceptance at an all time, surely the cracks in federal policy will continue to widen. Nice states have made the bigger step of decriminalizing marijuana for recreational use, as well. In the meantime, other federal legislators are working on their own bills, like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Al of these developments has the potential for what appears to be a landmarked summer for marijuana advocates. Stay tuned to see what comes next, as more state laws change, while the thread of the outdated federal law hangs in the balance.