In the wake of one more stunning electoral consequence – through which nationwide Republicans at the moment are favored to retain management of the U.S. Senate – nationwide marijuana reform organizations are weighing their prospects for the subsequent Congress.
The consensus is there’s a stable probability for progress – including banking entry for hashish firms – however not almost as a lot had Democrats taken over the higher chamber.
“I thought the Senate would switch, so I’m sort of recalibrating my expectations of what we think we can get,” stated Michael Correia, head lobbyist for the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Previously, Correia and others had been hoping that the Democratic-backed MORE Act would have the ability to go Congress, which might end in federal legalization and an finish to most of the woes which have hobbled the U.S. marijuana trade for years.
The largest impediment shall be getting payments by means of the GOP-controlled Senate, a number of Washington DC-based lobbyists and activists agreed.
That’s significantly true now that Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado is on his means out, having misplaced his bid for reelection to former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“A Republican Senate without Cory Gardner is an industry without a Republican champion,” stated Saphira Galoob, a lobbyist who represents the National Cannabis Roundtable and different marijuana trade shoppers.
“We’ve never had a Republican who was as overtly and enthusiastically fighting for us.”
Galoob and Correia agreed that if Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell stays in cost as the bulk chief, the probabilities of federal legalization are slim, primarily as a result of hashish reform has merely by no means been a precedence for the Kentucky senator.
“As long as Mitch (McConnell) is in power, cannabis reform is going to be a heavier lift,” Correia stated.
SAFE Banking nonetheless an choice
There is one main proposal that also has life, nonetheless: the SAFE Banking Act, which might grant banking entry to all state-legal marijuana companies and, thus, have a doubtlessly transformative impact on the trade as an entire.
That’s as a result of McConnell on Wednesday modified his place on a brand new coronavirus aid bundle, saying he believes Congress must approve a relief bill earlier than the top of the 12 months – opposite to a place he took earlier than the election.
House Democrats already had included the SAFE Banking Act in their very own COVID-19 aid bundle in September, which means it might get included in a brand new bundle – relying on how negotiations between Senate Republicans and House Democrats play out.
“The SAFE Banking Act certainly has a good chance of becoming law, perhaps even in the lame-duck session,” stated Steve Fox, a strategic adviser to the Cannabis Trade Federation.
“It had strong bipartisan support in the House. There really isn’t passionate opposition to it in the Senate. It just really wasn’t a priority.”
Correia stated a deal between the 2 events in Congress is strictly what he’s hoping for, which might get SAFE Banking by means of to the president’s desk.
“I think everything is lined up to try to make that happen and have that outcome,” Correia stated.
Galoob additionally famous that if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the White House, he might assist the trade with government orders reminiscent of reinstating the Cole Memo and different Department of Justice memos that had been longtime guiding rules for marijuana firms.
Those memos had been all rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early 2018.
“If Biden is at the helm, we’ve likely got more options for executive orders and administrative actions,” Galoob stated.
Federal legalization trying like an extended shot
Without a one-party federal authorities, nonetheless, it stays anybody’s guess as to when the endgame of federal marijuana legalization might turn out to be a actuality, just because partisan bickering has too usually forestalled progress.
Fox stated he’s stubbornly hopeful, partially, due to all of the positive aspects made on Election Day on the state degree, with Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota voting overwhelmingly to legalize both medical or leisure marijuana – or, within the case of South Dakota, each.
Those wins imply a complete of 38 states have legalized MMJ and 15 have legalized adult-use hashish. (See map above.) Moreover, one in three residents within the U.S. now reside in a state that allows leisure marijuana. And roughly 70% reside in a state with medical marijuana.
That’s a political actuality that Congress can select to disregard just for so lengthy, Fox stated.
“It’s certainly not as good (a situation) as if the Democrats had taken control of the Senate, but at the same time, we’re hoping even the Republicans who will be in control paid attention to what was going on Tuesday night on the cannabis front. Pretty impressive showings in some very red states,” Fox stated.
Federal legalization, he stated, “just needs to happen, and more and more states are going to be getting on board, so the pressure will continue to grow.”
In different phrases, he’s not able to rule out the opportunity of convincing sufficient senators that sufficient states have spoken and it’s time to repeal federal prohibition.
“I think anything’s possible, and it could be a matter of some Republicans in the Senate finally just acknowledging this is real,” Fox stated.
John Schroyer might be reached at [email protected]