Federal Pot Reform: Dormant, Not Dead
I’m a huge fan of the British comedy troupe Monty Python. In a famous Python sketch, a customer who bought a “Norwegian Blue” parrot brings the clearly dead bird back to the pet shop for a refund. The shopkeeper argues that the parrot isn’t dead… it’s merely “resting.”
The same can be said of marijuana legislation that’s pending in Congress. These bills aren’t dead. They’re merely resting.
It’s been a wild week in Washington, DC, with President Trump last Friday getting medevaced into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for extreme treatment for COVID-19 and then checking himself out again on Monday.
The high-drama in the nation’s capital has stalled action on several marijuana bills in Congress. But these proposed laws aren’t going away. When the contentious November presidential election is finally behind us and the coronavirus shows signs of abating, the “green rush” will be back on the agenda.
Another impediment to action on marijuana legislation is the bitter bickering in Congress to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What’s more, many key lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 and there’s also a push to somehow get new fiscal stimulus passed.
In the halls of Congress right now, gridlock reigns supreme. But significant legislation that will transform the marijuana industry is waiting in the wings for resuscitation. Lawmakers know that marijuana legalization is popular, so they’re not about to let these proposals die.
A large majority of the public wants access to cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes. The number one priority of politicians is self-preservation and they can read the polls. The mainstreaming of marijuana will gain momentum on the federal level, a tailwind for canna-business investments.
Here’s a re-cap of the major bills pending in Congress:
Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act
The MORE Act would federally deschedule cannabis and expunge the records of those with previous marijuana convictions. MORE also would impose a 5% tax on cannabis sales, the revenue from which would be reinvested in communities most harmed by the War on Drugs.
MORE also would expedite resentencing for people imprisoned for marijuana offenses, protect immigrants from being denied citizenship because of cannabis, and prevent federal agencies from blocking public benefits or security clearances due to its use.
Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act
Sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), this bill would federally deschedule marijuana, set aside funding for minority and women-owned cannabis businesses, and provide grants to help people expunge prior marijuana convictions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the lead sponsor of a companion Senate bill.
Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act
This legislation, from Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the CSA and stipulate that the federal government can’t “prohibit or otherwise restrict” state-legal use, possession, transportation, production and distribution of medical cannabis.
Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2019
A bipartisan group of House members, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), introduced the bill last year. It would simplify the registration process for researchers interested in studying cannabis and allow certified scientists to obtain research-grade cannabis from private manufacturers.
Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019
The Medical Cannabis Research Act, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), would require the Justice Department to approve additional manufacturers of research-grade marijuana, protect research institutions interested in conducting studies on cannabis, and authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to inform patients about federally approved cannabis studies in which they can participate.
Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is the sponsor of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, a bill that would make it legal under federal law for military veterans to “use, possess, or transport medical marijuana” in state-legal systems. It also would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to issue medical cannabis recommendations to their patients.
I’m monitoring these six bills and I’ll keep you posted as to their progress. In the meantime, our stock-picking experts have unearthed publicly traded gems in canna-business that most investors don’t even know about. Click here for our report on the best pot stocks.
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John Persinos is the editor-in-chief of Marijuana Investing Daily.