From an outsider’s perspective, the cannabis community in the United States is right now just about the luckiest in the entire world. They might not have gone quite so far as Uruguay, but the pot policy reforms rolled out of the last few months have been both historic and life-changing for millions. It’s the dawn of an exciting new era – one that’s destined to see the cannabis industry become one of the biggest and most lucrative in US history.
Or is it?
That’s the question currently being asked by an incalculable number of cannabis industry players, who seem to be walking a tightrope with no idea which side they’ll eventually fall on. Every time it seems like things are heading in the right direction, the White House issues a statement that seems engineered to keep the industry in tenterhooks. After which, supporters in high positions speak out in favour of the industry and we are back to square one.
Cross Party US Cannabis CaucusToday it’s one of the more positive examples of official sabre-rattling that we’re focusing on. Specifically, two Democrats and two Republicans have confirmed that they are to begin and chair a new Congressional group, which will focus its efforts specifically on fighting any potential war on cannabis that may kick-start in the near future. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK) and Jared Polis (D-CO) confirmed the news just before the weekend, officially giving birth to the Cannabis Caucus.
Make no mistake about it – this particular quartet is no stranger to campaigning for fair cannabis legislation and public pot policy. Quite to the contrary, they have spent several years attempting to bring some kind of synergy between cannabis law at a state level and outdated Federal law, which still considers cannabis in all its forms to be 100% illegal. Suffice to say, the primary aim of the Cannabis Caucus will be to ensure that the law is changed in a manner that benefits the public in areas where cannabis was legalized on the back of a fair and open public vote.
“[There’s a] tremendous increase in interest because of actions that voters in several states have taken,” Polis said, adding that the cannabis ballot initiatives have “put it on radar of members of Congress who haven’t focused on this issue before.”
As far as Blumenauer is concerned, the coming weeks will see an unprecedented number of other supporters joining or backing the Cannabis Caucus.
“People will be surprised by the number of folks in the weeks ahead that will join up on a bipartisan basis,” he said.
“Marijuana Got More Votes Than Trump”
Nevertheless, he went on to confirm that he himself is not a cannabis user and has absolutely no intention of trying cannabis in any form until Federal law is changed. “I have felt since 1973 that it would be hypocritical to try and change the law and be a user,” he said, though he did state that he “would not hesitate for a second” to provide cannabis for a family member, were they to need it for medical purposes.
He went on to state that cannabis users and businesses across the United States do not want to be left in a position where they have no idea where they stand, simply because those in power really do not know what they are dealing with or how to deal with it.
“Marijuana got more votes than Donald Trump” in several states in November, Blumenauer said, and “millions of Trump voters voted for changing marijuana laws.”
Unfortunately, the only thing that appears to be abundantly clear right now and in terms of cannabis policy is that when it comes to the Federal classification of cannabis, we aren’t going to be seeing any big changes anytime soon. Even if it is the primary goal of the Cannabis Caucus to campaign for positive change, recent comments issued by the White House suggest that changes at a Federal level are out of the question for the time being. In fact, a recent statement from Mr. Spicer himself gave the suggestion that Trump and Co. are gearing up to launch at least some kind of offensive, targeting recreational cannabis users nationwide.
War On Drugs
The so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been running its course in the United States for decades now, though it is a war the vast majority believe has come to nothing. It is still very much underway right now, but for the most part is proving to be a misguided and misdirected waste of time and money. Nevertheless, Spicer spoke somewhat vaguely about “greater enforcement” of Federal cannabis law under the new government, despite the fact that quite the opposite represented a key promise on the campaign trail.
But then again, who exactly expected all such promises to be kept?
It’s an interesting, if rather confusing era in which pretty much nobody seems to know where they stand. Nevertheless, there are those who believe that campaigners on both sides of the fence need to wake up and accept a few important realities.
“Those who would rather ban the drug should stop flogging the dead horse of prohibition and start campaigning for versions of legalization that do the least harm (just as the temperance movement these days lobbies for higher taxes on booze, rather than a ban),” read a recent piece published in The Economist.
“Legalizers, meanwhile, should open their eyes to the fact that the legal marijuana industry, which until now has only had to prove itself more worthy than organised criminals, now needs as much scrutiny as the other “sin” industries that defend their turf jealously.”
What Is The Future of Cannabis Law?
Whatever happens going forward, it is unlikely that the much-feared doomsday scenario is ever going to play out. For the most part, the cannabis community seems convinced that the Trump Administration will either do absolutely nothing with regard to the cannabis issue or go completely OTT and declare nuclear war on recreational cannabis users. The latter of the two is less than realistic, given the way in which it would spectacularly harm the economy, result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and see millions enter into a program of open defiance of a government that decided to go entirely against democracy. It just isn’t going to happen – even within government as controversial as Trump’s.
Instead, it’s more likely to prove a case whereby those who flout both state law and Federal law may find themselves punished significantly more harshly than would probably be expected. The message being one whereby cannabis users and industry players are warned to follow the rules of the state to the latter, or face the wrath of the Fed.
That’s one possible outcome anyway…many other, albeit less plausible prospects are nothing short of unthinkable.