(Meaningless?) Federal Vote on Marijuana Legalization is on the Horizon

By Hilary Bricken, Co-founder Harris Bricken

I’ve been practicing corporate, transactional, and regulatory law in the marijuana sector for going on ten years now. I’ve never ever understood precisely why people get excited about, or even remotely interested, when numerous lifetime politicians in Congress push bills on the federal legalization/rescheduling of marijuana. Why? Since these bills notoriously go nowhere (for a quantity of what appear to be purely political causes) and will continue to go nowhere, in my opinion, exactly where marijuana (when incredibly common with most Americans and certainly with specific complete states) is nevertheless as well politically hot to trust out-of-touch members of Congress to do something meaningful about it, and particularly now provided that the nation’s priorities appear to revolve about dealing with COVID-19 (and rightly so).

The House’s planned floor vote in early September about the most current federal marijuana legalization measure (the Marijuana Chance Reinvestment and Expungement Act (“MORE Act” (see the Residence version right here, which was introduced final year)) is no distinctive. When I’m glad to see members of Congress continue to attempt to chip away at the continued (failed) War on Drugs concerning cannabis, I’m honestly tired of seeing the fanfare attendant with these legalization bills. At the similar time, my interest in these points is generally peaked when seeking at what members of Congress are prepared to push when it comes to nationwide legalization.

Yes, this upcoming vote is nevertheless substantial and historic due to the fact neither chamber of Congress has ever voted on absolutely removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act (and the Much more Act is a bipartisan bill, as well), but we all know exactly where this is going–the Democratic-controlled Residence will probably pass the bill and the GOP-controlled Senate will incredibly probably ignore it or shut it down. I also cannot ignore the reality that the bill’s Senate sponsor is Senator (and democratic vice president nominee) Kamala Harris who admittedly has a terrible record on prosecuting marijuana crimes from when she was the Lawyer Common of the State of California and is now in the previous two and a half years miraculously behind supporting marijuana legalization culminating in a presidential election year. Quite practical.

What precisely would the Much more Act do? It absolutely removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing/descheduling it altogether and eliminating criminal penalties for every person in the industrial chain of production, distribution, and sales (which would also imply that the banking access woes and draconian influence of IRC 280E would be more than). Proper now, marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance and illegal beneath federal law, creating its property on schedule I subsequent to LSD and heroine. The Act would also expunge marijuana criminal records dating back to May possibly 1, 1971 due to the fact it is retroactive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also charged beneath the Act with collecting and compiling a range of information on marijuana firms and their owners. The Act creates the Chance Trust Fund with numerous earmarks to the Lawyer Common and the Smaller Company Administration (SBA) (with the SBA allocations meant to help the Marijuana Chance Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019). A federal tax would also be imposed on marijuana solutions “manufactured in or imported into the United States . . . equal to five % of the cost for which sold.” Importantly, when the Act empowers the Feds to engage in rulemaking for a federal regulatory framework, states would nevertheless be in manage of licensing, oversight, and enforcement inside their borders (incredibly equivalent to alcohol).

The Much more Act establishes the Cannabis Justice Workplace, which is mostly charged with “establish[ing] and carry[ing] out a grant system, identified as the ‘Community Reinvestment Grant Program’, to supply eligible entities with funds to administer solutions for men and women most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, such as (1) job education (two) reentry solutions (three) legal help for civil and criminal instances, such as expungement of cannabis convictions (four) literacy applications (five) youth recreation or mentoring applications and (six) wellness education applications.” The Act also sets up the Cannabis Chance System by way of the SBA to ” to supply any eligible State or locality funds to make loans . . . to help smaller enterprise issues owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged men and women . . . that operate in the cannabis sector.” The SBA will also build the “’Equitable Licensing Grant Program’, to supply any eligible State of locality funds to create and implement equitable cannabis licensing applications that reduce barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for men and women most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, offered that every single grantee contains in its cannabis licensing system at least 4 of the following: (A) A waiver of cannabis license application charges for men and women who have had an revenue under 250 % of the Federal Poverty Level for at least five of the previous ten years who are very first-time applicants (B) A prohibition on the denial of a cannabis license primarily based on a conviction for a cannabis offense that took location prior to State legalization of cannabis or the date of enactment of [the] Act, as acceptable (C) A prohibition on criminal conviction restrictions for licensing except with respect to a conviction connected to owning and operating a enterprise (D) A prohibition on cannabis license holders engaging in suspicionless cannabis drug testing of their potential or existing personnel, except with respect to drug testing for security-sensitive positions . . . (E) The establishment of a cannabis licensing board that is reflective of the racial, ethnic, financial, and gender composition of the State or locality, to serve as an oversight physique of the equitable licensing system.”

The Much more Act makes it possible for the SBA to supply loans and other economic relief to cannabis firms and ancillary cannabis firms (which is a substantially good improvement provided the existing therapy of cannabis and cannabis ancillary firms by the SBA through COVID-19), and it eliminates the penalties and consequences to and for foreigners seeking to participate or invest in the sector (which has been a substantial headache beneath the status quo).

The Much more Act would do some astounding points for the cannabis sector in the U.S., which is now a robust sector driving state and nearby tax income when boosting and sustaining job creation (note that cannabis all round is regarded as an “essential business” through this pandemic). The issue right here is not actually something written in the Much more Act–it’s a prevalent sense bill that mirrors what’s currently taking place in most states about nearby legalization it is the reality that Congressional inside baseball and national politics continue to stymie federal legalization and there’s no finish in sight on that front provided the existing (deep) division among democrats and republicans more than what to prioritize for Americans.

So, I’m not holding my breath more than the passage of the Much more Act. I’m positive one particular day I will ultimately think that one particular of these federal measures will truly pass, but it is not going to be this September.

Re-published with the permission of Harris Bricken and The Canna Law Weblog

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