(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 business for going on ten years now. I’ve never ever understood specifically why people get excited about, or even remotely interested, when numerous 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 appear to be purely political motives) and will continue to go nowhere, in my opinion, exactly where marijuana (when particularly well known 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 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 Home version right here, which was introduced final year)) is no distinct. Whilst I’m glad to see members of Congress continue to attempt to chip away at the continued (failed) War on Drugs with regards to cannabis, I’m honestly tired of seeing the fanfare attendant with these legalization bills. At the very same time, my interest in these factors is normally peaked when seeking at what members of Congress are prepared to push when it comes to nationwide legalization.

Yes, this upcoming vote is nonetheless considerable and historic since neither chamber of Congress has ever voted on totally removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act (and the A lot more Act is a bipartisan bill, as well), but we all know exactly where this is going–the Democratic-controlled Home will most likely pass the bill and the GOP-controlled Senate will quite most likely 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 hassle-free.

What specifically would the A lot more 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, producing its house on schedule I subsequent to LSD and heroine. The Act would also expunge marijuana criminal records dating back to May well 1, 1971 since it is retroactive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also charged below the Act with collecting and compiling a range of information on marijuana firms and their owners. The Act creates the Chance Trust Fund with numerous earmarks to the Lawyer Common and the Smaller 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 solutions “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 nonetheless be in manage of licensing, oversight, and enforcement inside their borders (quite related to alcohol).

The A lot more Act establishes the Cannabis Justice Workplace, which is mostly charged with “establish[ing] and carry[ing] out a grant plan, recognized as the ‘Community Reinvestment Grant Program’, to offer eligible entities with funds to administer solutions for people most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, such as (1) job instruction (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) well being education applications.” The Act also sets up the Cannabis Chance System by means of the SBA to ” to offer any eligible State or locality funds to make loans . . . to help tiny business enterprise issues owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged people . . . that operate in the cannabis business.” The SBA will also make the “’Equitable Licensing Grant Program’, to offer any eligible State of locality funds to create and implement equitable cannabis licensing applications that lessen barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for people most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, offered that every grantee consists of 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 earnings beneath 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 suitable (C) A prohibition on criminal conviction restrictions for licensing except with respect to a conviction connected to owning and operating a business enterprise (D) A prohibition on cannabis license holders engaging in suspicionless cannabis drug testing of their potential or present workers, 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 A lot more Act makes it possible for the SBA to offer loans and other economic relief to cannabis firms and ancillary cannabis firms (which is a considerably constructive improvement offered the present remedy of cannabis and cannabis ancillary firms by the SBA for the duration of COVID-19), and it eliminates the penalties and consequences to and for foreigners seeking to participate or invest in the business (which has been a considerable headache below the status quo).

The A lot more Act would do some wonderful factors for the cannabis business in the U.S., which is now a robust business driving state and nearby tax income when boosting and sustaining job creation (note that cannabis all round is regarded an “essential business” for the duration of this pandemic). The trouble right here is not genuinely something written in the A lot more Act–it’s a popular sense bill that mirrors what’s currently taking place in most states about nearby 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 A lot more Act. I’m positive a single day I will at some point think that a single of these federal measures will basically 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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