The last ten years have been revolutionary for marijuana legalization, with more than 40 cannabis-related bills floating around the House of Representatives alone in this Congress, along with countless others in the Senate, numerous decriminalization bills already exist, yet we can only hope for legalization and/or decriminalization in our near future. State and local levels move quickly, yet at federal level the law changes seem to move much slower.
Two new studies show a correlation between medical marijuana and lowered rates of opioid abuse – but what is it about weed that seems to help?
Letting the States Decide
A group of senators plans to drop a bill that gives the individual states the right to override the federal prohibition on marijuana. Apparently the president is fine with allowing each individual state to decide their own marijuana laws, which is simple federalism.
"The president has said he would support a federalist approach to marijuana, and this embodies that approach," He says he's still working out the final details of it with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She's become more emboldened on the issue since AG Sessions rescinded the so-called Cole Memo that directed federal prosecutors to not prioritize marijuana enforcement in states that legalized weed.
The majority of what we are told President Trump has said, was said in private conversation, not officially.
"I'd be very surprised if the president, given his family history and attitude towards addictive substances, would be overly willing to expand the legalization of a drug," Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) tells Rolling Stone.
Focus on Medical Testing
As it seems, our best bet for bringing to light how important marijuana truly is; is to lax the laws on medical research paving the way to new discoveries and undeniable proof that cannabis has many medicinal qualities.
Recently there has be great, even historic progress on that front: The VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2018 became the first-ever standalone marijuana bill to make it through a congressional committee. This not only removes barriers to testing marijuana at the Department of Veterans Affairs but also forces officials there to send regular reports to Congress so lawmakers can track whether the VA is taking the testing legislation seriously. Which forces Congress to see the actual proof that we need them to see. If these tests results show that marijuana is good for veterans, then this could easily translate to the greater public.
"We shouldn't have state legislatures deciding on what's an adequate treatment for somebody," Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), who chairs the Veteran's Affairs Committee, tells Rolling Stone. Roe – a doctor and staunch conservative from a state where a first-time offense for possession of less than a half ounce of weed can land you in jail for a year – says he merely wants to see evidence.
"Today in America, there are clinical trials that need veterans to participate, but at the VA today we're not even able to tell veterans of the existence of those trials," Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tells Rolling Stone.
Marijuana Business and Banks
As we all know, Marijuana businesses cannot conduct business within the banking sector, even in states where weed is either recreationally or medicinally legal. The Small Business Administration also recently moved to stop any company involved in this green revolution from receiving loans. There are actions in motion to at the very least make it so marijuana businesses don't have to be all cash. Cash comes with massive security risks, is easily untraceable. Without access to capital it's hard to be a player in a capitalistic economy. A slew of bills deal with this issue – some allow marijuana businesses to simply access the banking system, while others go farther, allowing them to get the same tax breaks enjoyed by non-marijuana related businesses.
"We just shouldn't deny a wider range of business opportunities," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) tells Rolling Stone. "And it's not just people who cultivate – there are people who provide facilities, equipment, professional services. I mean it's insane."
Marijuana is still classed as a Schedule I drug, alongside LSD and HEROIN. Anybody with half a brain knows that marijuana is not and should not be compared to these drugs. The is a growing effort to completely remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances.
Last summer, the Justice Act was introduced by Democratic Sen. Booker of New Jersey in the upper chamber and by Rep. Barbara Lee of California in the House – the first time both chambers have seen bills introduced to completely delist marijuana. It remains a long shot, but it's picking up steam – and its supporters say this is just the beginning.