As of today, 95% of the U.S. Population has access to Cannabis for either Medicinal or Recreational purposes, thanks to successful voter initiatives over the past 20 years.
It’s hard to dismiss the slow and steady progress of Cannabis reform across the United States, and our Legislators have begun to understand the benefits of having progressive Cannabis laws in their States. Despite the various benefits legal Cannabis legislation can provide for our Country, major issues continue to pervade this Industry. State’s Rights, the arduous, bureaucratic process to Federally researching Medical Cannabis, the severely limited access to financial institutions and the heavy burden of IRS § 280E are some of the biggest hurdles toward expanding our Medical and Recreational Cannabis markets.
A recent Quinnipac poll shows that 71% of our Country currently opposes the Federal Regulation of Cannabis in States with Cannabis legalization, and despite this fact, Congress has been apprehensive toward repairing the dichotomy between States legalizing Cannabis and the current Federal Scheduling under the Controlled Substance Act. To protect the various interests behind Medical and Recreational Cannabis, a group of Republican and Democratic Congressmen founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus this past month.
In this post, Mora Mota Group will explain why the Cannabis Caucus exists, who is leading the effort and how they look to preserve this burgeoning industry.
What is the Congressional Cannabis Caucus?
The Congressional Cannabis Caucus was founded on February 18, 2017 by members of the House of Representatives by Congressmen that represent States with Medical and/or Recreational Cannabis laws. One of their primary goals is to harmonize the federal laws on illicit Cannabis and State laws that legalize Medical and Recreational Cannabis.
Who founded the Cannabis Caucus?
After the 2016 Election, U.S. Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Earl Blumenauer publicly announced they were forming a Bipartisan Congressional Caucus focused on Cannabis. Congressmen Rohrabacher and Blumenauer represent States that have both Medical and Recreational Cannabis laws in place, and each have introduced legislation to reform the status of Cannabis at the federal level in the past.
The current members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus include:
Dana Rohrabacher: Republican U.S. Representative from California, one of the co-founders of the Cannabis Caucus and whose State established the first Medical Marijuana laws in the Country;
Earl Blumenauer: Democratic U.S. Representative from Oregon, co-founder of the Caucus and pro-Cannabis advocate whose State has both Medical and Recreational Cannabis laws;
Don Young: Republican U.S. Representative from Alaska, represents one of the first States to pass Recreational Cannabis laws in 2014; and
Jared Polis: Democratic U.S. Representative from Colorado, whose State has one of the strongest Medical and Recreational markets in the United States.
Although no additional lawmakers have joined the Caucus as of today, there is increasing support on both sides of the aisle that seek to protect the vested interests in the legal Cannabis Industry. Look for more Congressmen with Medical and/or Recreational Cannabis laws in their States to consider joining the Caucus in the upcoming months.
Why the need for a Cannabis Caucus?
A major obstacle, at least for the Medical Cannabis Industry, is having the freedom to operate and conduct research without the fear of Federal interference. Rescheduling Cannabis is one avenue the Cannabis Caucus may look to in easing the limitations for the Industry, enabling opportunities for Researchers to conduct new studies to fully understand the health benefits and risks associated with Medical Cannabis use.
Allowing increased access to financial institutions for legal Cannabis Companies will protect these entities from the criminal risk surrounding cash-only businesses. Additionally, lessening the tax burden that Cannabis Companies face will help to lead to increased competition that results in lower prices for the consumer.
The Cannabis Caucus is necessary to helping inform other members of Congress about the need to progress our laws in this Industry. The Caucus also opens doors for interested parties to provide their support and expertise regarding the Cannabis Industry, further informing our Legislators to help in passing legislation that makes sense for our Country.
How the Cannabis Caucus Can get the job done.
Mora Mota Group identifies the main priorities for the Cannabis Caucus:
Passing Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment legislation: This will help to protect Medical Cannabis States from Federal Interference by the Department of Justice on a continuous basis;
Reforming IRS § 280E: Decreasing the tax burden faced by legal Cannabis Companies helps businesses;
Rescheduling the Controlled Substance Act: Moving Cannabis to Schedule II, III, or completely removing it from the Controlled Substance Act will enable States to implement their own laws as they relate to legal Cannabis; and
Creating Model Legislation: Enabling other States to adopt similar legislation of mature markets without Federal interference will enable a smooth transition into a well-run Industry.
Most of these goals will not be able to be done without consensus and support from all parties in Government, especially from the Executive Branch, while both the President and Attorney General have signaled that Cannabis laws should be left up to the States.
While leaving the final decision to Congress to pass laws that support the Industry, we believe that the Cannabis Industry at large is ultimately responsible for facilitating the success of this Caucus by making our voices be heard and continually pushing towards sensible drug policy in our Country.