2019 Could be the Biggest Year for Marijuana Reform Yet

One of the biggest reasons for encouragement is a bill that many cannabis advocates believe could end up on President Trump’s desk: the States Act, which would formally leave marijuana regulation to the states instead of the federal government.
That single piece of legislation – while far short of what many MJ activists want – would be a “quantum leap” forward, in the words of Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine.
Perhaps the foremost factor that could prove the dealmaker for marijuana reform in 2019 is the change in congressional makeup.
“A lot of the things that were stopping us in the past were chairmen in positions of power that just refused to engage at all,” said U.S. Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio.
“This is the first Congress in history where, going into it, it seems that broad marijuana reforms are actually achievable,” said Tom Angell, an advocate-journalist who runs Marijuana Moment.
Members of Congress are lining up to introduce bills that never got to see the light of day when Republicans ran the show. Two bills have already been filed: a reintroduction of the CARERS Act by Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), which would expand marijuana research, allow VA doctors to discuss pot with veteran patients and prevent the federal government from meddling with state-legal programs without removing marijuana from the schedules created by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970; and H.R. 420, the “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act” by Blumenauer, which would remove marijuana from the list of most dangerous drugs, “de-scheduling it” in Congress-speak, and shift regulatory authority to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
“For the past several Congresses, there have been dozens of pieces of marijuana legislation filed, but this is the first time where advocates can legitimately say that some of these bills can actually pass,” Angell told me.
And, sure, Republicans remain in control of the Senate, so it seems unlikely that such bills would have much luck there. But the current Senate is practically the same body that just a month ago passed a criminal justice reform bill 87 to 12, and under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to legalize hemp — the non-psychoactive sister plant of marijuana — through the Farm Bill.
This level of disconnection between state and federal law cannot hold for much longer, and it might not have to. In the wake of the Farm Bill, the idea that Congress could remove marijuana from the list of scheduled drugs is now conceivable. After all, the plant is now legal; only the potency is in question. Maybe this year, for the first time, Blumenauer’s bill doesn’t seem so crazy. Nothing would solidify 2019 as marijuana’s biggest year yet more than a rollback of that half-century-old designation.
“It would not be shocking to see the end of federal marijuana prohibition signed into law this year,” Angell told me. “This is the first time that actually seems achievable.”
Source: Politico Magazine, James Higdon