Federal


Oct, 2021 by Cannabiz Wholesaler

Cannabis has yet to be made legal in all 50 states. How come?


At present, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, four territories, and Washington, DC. Another dozen states have legalized the medical use of CBD derived from marijuana. Recreational cannabis is legal in 19 states, two territories and Washington, DC.

The point has been made repeatedly that Americans want cannabis to be legal. Pew Research Center recently found that that a whopping 91% of Americans support some form of legalization -- 31% said they support medical use only, while 60% are in favor of both medical and recreational.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and colleagues Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon released the draft of a bill earlier this year -- the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) – that would bring to a close the federal ban on marijuana. It would also regulate and tax it like alcohol and tobacco. Unfortunately, drafting a bill is not the same thing as passing it into law.

“We don’t have the votes necessary at this point,” Schumer told the media at a recent press conference, “but we have a large majority of our caucus for it. We’re going to show it to the others and say, ‘Well, what don’t you like? What do you like?’ And we’ll see if we can get the support. We’re going to put our muscle behind it, all our effort behind it, and we’re going to get this done ASAP.”

Schumer told reporters he remains resolute. “We’re going to fight hard to change, and America is on our side. Even in South Dakota, one of the most conservative states in America, a majority voted to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. If South Dakota can do it, the Senate should be able to do it.”

“Another obstacle is the President of the United States, Joe Biden,” Forbes pointed out. “Biden supports decriminalization, not legalization. Schumer, however, minimized how Biden is not aligned with him and his colleagues Booker and Wyden.” Added Schumer when asked about Biden, “The White House knows we are introducing this legislation, and we intend we intend to show them the draft legislation and ask them to support it.”

BUT FIRST…

All of that being said, not every advocate of federal legalization of marijuana wants to see it done quite yet.

For instance, Colorado Governor Jared Polis sent a letter near the end of August to Schumer, Booker and Wyden urging Congress to immediately take up legislation to enact tax and banking measures for the marijuana industry. Specifically, he called for passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow financial institutions to serve cannabis businesses.

“I am thrilled that you are bringing forward a long-term, comprehensive solution that de-schedules cannabis while enhancing social equity pathways,” Polis’s letter read. “I hope that you will first focus your efforts on the two biggest barriers to the success of the cannabis industry: banking and IRS Code Section 280E. Legislation to address these issues has more bipartisan support than ever before, and can be passed in the short-term as you continue to work on the details of the CAOA.”

Polis also told the members of Congress that they had no further to search for a blueprint to follow than his own state. “In 2020, legal cannabis generated $387 million in state tax revenue in Colorado, which funds education, healthcare, substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, law enforcement, research, and more. Establishing a national taxed and regulated legal cannabis system will allow the U.S. government to benefit from additional tax revenues, too. But it is critical that the tax level is not so cost-prohibitive that it undermines the federal legal cannabis systems both already in place and being developed in emerging regulated cannabis states.” Polis’s letter continued, “While Congress needs to pass CAOA and de-schedule cannabis, we do not want federal legislation to simply replace our carefully crafted state regulatory systems and accidentally destabilize state markets. As the CAOA draft evolves, I hope the bill sponsors will carefully consider how the implementation of a comprehensive federal cannabis regime will interplay with already successful state regimes.”

SHOW-ME STATE


Over in Missouri, cannabis enthusiasts – the group calls itself Legal Missouri 2022 -- have filed a ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for adults. Their next job will be to gather at least 175,000 signatures to secure the issue on next year’s midterm ballots. The constitutional amendment includes a 6% retail tax and the option for local governments to collect their own 3% tax on sales.

The group’s campaign manager, John Payne, told the press that there is “widespread support among Missouri voters to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana.” He added, “The status quo has allowed an unsafe, illegal market to thrive in Missouri, while preventing law enforcement from truly prioritizing the fight against violent crime. Now is the time for Missouri to join the 19 other states to have successfully regulated and taxed adult use marijuana, bringing millions in new funding for vital state services.”

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