In many ways the United States has historically served as ground zero for the war on cannabis. The U.S. is not the only country to prohibit cannabis at the national level, however, decades ago it largely led the charge in support of cannabis prohibition and wielded its international influence to make sure that prohibition became the law of the planet.
In recent decades the frost of cannabis prohibition in the U.S. has steadily started to thaw, particularly after Colorado and Washington State became the first in the nation to pass adult-use legalization measures in 2012 and subsequently launched adult-use sales in 2014.
Zoom forward to today and there are now 21 states that have passed adult-use legalization measures, in addition to Washington D.C. Gallup recently released its annual cannabis legalization poll results, and support remained at a record high of 68%. As I often point out, you will be hard pressed to find any other political issue in the U.S. right now that has that level of support.
Yet, despite that backdrop and growing momentum, cannabis reform within the United States Congress has lagged considerably. Various bills have come and gone over the years, with some seeing limited success in one chamber but not the other. That changed recently when both chambers of the U.S. Congress finally passed a stand-alone cannabis bill, with the bill currently awaiting the U.S. President’s signature.
The bill is called the “Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act” and it would boost cannabis research efforts in the U.S. The legislation, which was originally introduced in July with bipartisan support, passed the House prior to successfully making its way through the Senate.
“After working on the issue of cannabis reform for decades, finally the dam is starting to break. The passage of my Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act in the House and Senate represents a historic breakthrough in addressing the federal government’s failed and misguided prohibition of cannabis.” stated Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who co-introduced the legislation in the House. Congressman Blumenauer has previously spoken at International Cannabis Business Conference events.
“As we have seen in state after state, the public is tired of waiting for the federal government to catch up. Nearly half of our nation’s population now live in states where adult-use of cannabis is legal. For far too long, Congress has stood in the way of science and progress, creating barriers for researchers attempting to study cannabis and its benefits. At a time when more than 155 million Americans reside where adult-use of cannabis is legal at the state or local level and there are four million registered medical marijuana users with many more likely to self-medicate, it is essential that we are able to fully study the impacts of cannabis use.” Congressman Blumenauer went on to say.
“The passage of this legislation coming just weeks after the change in President Biden’s posture towards cannabis is extraordinarily significant. We must capitalize on this momentum to move subsequent common-sense House-passed bills like the SAFE Banking Act, which finally allows state-legal dispensaries to access banking services and reduce their risk of violent robberies.” Congressman Blumenauer concluded.