(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 market for going on ten years now. I’ve in no way understood specifically why people get excited about, or even remotely interested, when a variety of lifetime politicians in Congress push bills on the federal legalization/rescheduling of marijuana. Why? Due to the fact these bills notoriously go nowhere (for a quantity of what look to be purely political causes) and will continue to go nowhere, in my opinion, exactly where marijuana (though really well-liked with most Americans and naturally with particular complete states) is nonetheless as well politically hot to trust out-of-touch members of Congress to do something meaningful about it, and in particular now offered that the nation’s priorities look 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 various. Whilst 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 exact same time, my interest in these issues is normally peaked when hunting at what members of Congress are prepared to push when it comes to nationwide legalization.

Yes, this upcoming vote is nonetheless substantial and historic simply because neither chamber of Congress has ever voted on totally removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act (and the Extra 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 can not ignore the truth 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 Basic 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. Fairly easy.

What specifically would the Extra Act do? It totally removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing/descheduling it altogether and eliminating criminal penalties for absolutely everyone 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). Appropriate now, marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance and illegal below federal law, generating its property on schedule I subsequent to LSD and heroine. The Act would also expunge marijuana criminal records dating back to Might 1, 1971 simply because it is retroactive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also charged below the Act with collecting and compiling a wide variety of information on marijuana organizations and their owners. The Act creates the Chance Trust Fund with a variety of earmarks to the Lawyer Basic and the Compact Business enterprise 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 items “manufactured in or imported into the United States . . . equal to five % of the value for which sold.” Importantly, though the Act empowers the Feds to engage in rulemaking for a federal regulatory framework, states would nonetheless be in handle of licensing, oversight, and enforcement inside their borders (incredibly equivalent to alcohol).

The Extra Act establishes the Cannabis Justice Workplace, which is primarily charged with “establish[ing] and carry[ing] out a grant plan, identified as the ‘Community Reinvestment Grant Program’, to deliver eligible entities with funds to administer solutions for folks most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, such as (1) job education (two) reentry solutions (three) legal help for civil and criminal situations, such as expungement of cannabis convictions (four) literacy applications (five) youth recreation or mentoring applications and (six) overall health education applications.” The Act also sets up the Cannabis Chance Plan through the SBA to ” to deliver any eligible State or locality funds to make loans . . . to help modest organization issues owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged folks . . . that operate in the cannabis market.” The SBA will also generate the “’Equitable Licensing Grant Program’, to deliver any eligible State of locality funds to create and implement equitable cannabis licensing applications that decrease barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for folks most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, offered that each and every grantee contains in its cannabis licensing plan at least 4 of the following: (A) A waiver of cannabis license application costs for folks who have had an revenue under 250 % of the Federal Poverty Level for at least five of the previous ten years who are 1st-time applicants (B) A prohibition on the denial of a cannabis license primarily based on a conviction for a cannabis offense that took spot prior to State legalization of cannabis or the date of enactment of [the] Act, as proper (C) A prohibition on criminal conviction restrictions for licensing except with respect to a conviction associated to owning and operating a organization (D) A prohibition on cannabis license holders engaging in suspicionless cannabis drug testing of their potential or present 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 plan.”

The Extra Act permits the SBA to deliver loans and other economic relief to cannabis organizations and ancillary cannabis organizations (which is a considerably constructive improvement offered the present therapy of cannabis and cannabis ancillary organizations by the SBA throughout COVID-19), and it eliminates the penalties and consequences to and for foreigners hunting to participate or invest in the market (which has been a substantial headache below the status quo).

The Extra Act would do some wonderful issues for the cannabis market in the U.S., which is now a robust market driving state and neighborhood tax income though boosting and sustaining job creation (note that cannabis all round is viewed as an “essential business” throughout this pandemic). The trouble right here is not actually something written in the Extra Act–it’s a frequent sense bill that mirrors what’s currently taking place in most states about neighborhood legalization it is the truth that Congressional inside baseball and national politics continue to stymie federal legalization and there’s no finish in sight on that front offered the present (deep) division amongst democrats and republicans more than what to prioritize for Americans.

So, I’m not holding my breath more than the passage of the Extra Act. I’m certain a single day I will sooner or later think that a single of these federal measures will in fact 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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