Although federal lawmakers have not exactly been on the right side of cannabis reform over the past several decades, a recent report from Roll Call indicates that Congress could soon consider legislation aimed at decriminalizing the possession of marijuana across the entire nation.
With a record-breaking nine states predicted to pass marijuana ballot measures later this fall, including one in California, the United States is quickly becoming a nation with more legal weed than not.
As it stands, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the leaf for medicinal purposes, while Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have ended prohibition altogether.
It is this potential for more legal markets that both activists and lawmakers say is going to push Congress to make a drastic change…and soon.
“This is the year that the issue crests,” Oregon Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer told Roll Call. “When several or more of these pass, the floodgates will open.”
Unfortunately, the anticipated timeframe for this action is not exactly a solid enough handicap to begin placing wagers on when the citizens of this country will finally have the freedom to hold a little weed without risking prosecution.
Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin says the boys and girls on Capitol Hill could move to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana “as early as the next Congress, to some time within the next 10 years.”
However, even if you buy into the whole line of “marijuana will be legalized at the national level within the next decade,” which, incidentally, has been the broken record forecast for the past twenty years, there still seems to be too much immediate friction inside the federal government not to consider that we, as a nation, are still a long way off from passing effective marijuana reform.
For starters, there are some concerns right now that Congress may not even renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in the next federal budget, which would eliminate the current medical marijuana protections recently upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. If this happens, the DEA could resume its reign of terror against the medical marijuana community as early as at the beginning of 2017.
A report from Marijuana.com suggests that debates over unrelated issues, such as guns and transgender rights, have prompted Republican leadership -- infamous for killing marijuana-related amendments -- to hand pick specific riders for consideration in the upcoming budget while ignoring the rest.
This has created a tense situation inside the halls of Congress that could ultimately snuff out the provision intended to protect law-biding dispensaries and patients since it was first passed in 2014.
Furthermore, there are currently 20-plus pieces of marijuana-related legislation currently lingering in political purgatory on Capitol Hill. And even though Roll Call finds that Congress is now introducing more marijuana bills than ever, not a single one of these proposals, not even the ones begging modest adjustments to the national marijuana laws, have ever been considered for a hearing.
So while it may seem as though the United States is standing at the end of prohibitionary times, there is simply too much evidence to suggest otherwise. After all, despite the impressive progress experienced at the state level, there has not yet been any concrete considerations in Washington D.C.
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It appears we still have a long way to go.