(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 different lifetime politicians in Congress push bills on the federal legalization/rescheduling of marijuana. Why? Mainly because these bills notoriously go nowhere (for a quantity of what appear to be purely political factors) and will continue to go nowhere, in my opinion, exactly where marijuana (when very preferred with most Americans and clearly with specific complete states) is nevertheless also politically hot to trust out-of-touch members of Congress to do something meaningful about it, and specifically now offered 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 Property version right here, which was introduced final year)) is no distinct. When I’m glad to see members of Congress continue to attempt to chip away at the continued (failed) War on Drugs relating to cannabis, I’m honestly tired of seeing the fanfare attendant with these legalization bills. At the identical time, my interest in these issues 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 fully removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act (and the Extra Act is a bipartisan bill, also), but we all know exactly where this is going–the Democratic-controlled Property will probably pass the bill and the GOP-controlled Senate will extremely 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 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. Fairly handy.

What specifically would the Extra Act do? It fully removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing/descheduling it altogether and eliminating criminal penalties for everybody 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 below federal law, producing its property on schedule I subsequent to LSD and heroine. The Act would also expunge marijuana criminal records dating back to Might 1, 1971 due to the fact it is retroactive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also charged below the Act with collecting and compiling a assortment of information on marijuana firms and their owners. The Act creates the Chance Trust Fund with different earmarks to the Lawyer Common and the Smaller Business enterprise Administration (SBA) (with the SBA allocations meant to assistance 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 price tag for which sold.” Importantly, when the Act empowers the Feds to engage in rulemaking for a federal regulatory framework, states would nevertheless be in handle of licensing, oversight, and enforcement inside their borders (extremely 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 present eligible entities with funds to administer solutions for people most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, which includes (1) job instruction (two) reentry solutions (three) legal help for civil and criminal circumstances, which includes 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 Plan through the SBA to ” to present any eligible State or locality funds to make loans . . . to help modest small business issues owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged people . . . that operate in the cannabis market.” The SBA will also generate the “’Equitable Licensing Grant Program’, to present any eligible State of locality funds to create and implement equitable cannabis licensing applications that decrease barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for people most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, offered that every grantee involves in its cannabis licensing plan at least 4 of the following: (A) A waiver of cannabis license application charges for people who have had an revenue under 250 % of the Federal Poverty Level for at least five of the previous ten years who are initial-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 acceptable (C) A prohibition on criminal conviction restrictions for licensing except with respect to a conviction connected to owning and operating a small business (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 plan.”

The Extra Act permits the SBA to present loans and other monetary relief to cannabis firms and ancillary cannabis firms (which is a drastically constructive improvement offered the existing remedy of cannabis and cannabis ancillary firms by the SBA in the course of COVID-19), and it eliminates the penalties and consequences to and for foreigners seeking to participate or invest in the market (which has been a substantial headache below the status quo).

The Extra Act would do some remarkable issues for the cannabis market in the U.S., which is now a robust market driving state and regional tax income when boosting and sustaining job creation (note that cannabis general is regarded an “essential business” in the course of this pandemic). The issue right here is not truly something written in the Extra Act–it’s a frequent sense bill that mirrors what’s currently taking place in most states about regional 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 existing (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 1 day I will at some point think that 1 of these federal measures will really 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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