CANNABIS: A NEW POLITICAL CELEBRITY FOR PARTISAN RHETORIC?
On one side of the fence sits Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) and Senator Cory Gardener (Republican); headliners of a bipartisan partnership that hopes to get the STATES Act legislation passed and put an end to the federal ban on cannabis once and for all. It’s a bill that would leave each individual state in charge of its own pot policy. “I feel confident that if the Democrats recapture the Senate we’ll get a vote on this, and the vote will carry,” Senator Warren confirmed in an interview with Rolling Stone.
THE TRUMP-SESSIONS DOUBLE ACT
On the other side of the political garden lurks Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his highly vocal opposition to the legalization of cannabis on any level, whether it be medicinal, recreational, statewide, or national. While there was a time when President Trump would have backed Sessions and his say-no-to-legalization campaign all the way, the Trump-Sessions double act took a swift shift to the left in April 2018 when the President began to actively support the drive forward toward legalized cannabis. Indeed, Warren confirmed to Rolling Stone that when presented with the details of the STATES Act bill, the President told her that it “sounded like a good idea to him”.
A SECRET WAR ON WEED
But now, we find ourselves in the middle of a rumor that The Trump Administration is waging a secret war on weed. According to documents and interviews obtained by BuzzFeed News, The White House has asked 14 government federal agencies, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to help combat growing public support for cannabis by drafting a series of long memos; memos that only list information which could help to place our beloved plant in a negative light.
The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, as it’s so graciously named in these White House memos and emails, has been scouting for “evidence” to suggest that legalizing cannabis at federal level would, quite simply, be a bad idea. According to BuzzFeed News, the committee has asked for information that would demonstrate in some way how cannabis is a national threat, and how state legalization measures, implemented across the country to date, just aren’t up to scratch.
If we cast the net a little wider, it’s clear that President Trump isn’t the only one who’s performed a sudden U-turn on his cannabis policy. One of the key figures that Warren still needs to convince to get the STATES Act passed is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While McConnell seems to be steadfast in his opposition to Warren’s proposed bill, he chose to fast-track the legalization of low-THC hemp through the Senate in April 2018. Officially dubbed the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, it was a bill that would legalize hemp, remove it from the federal list of controlled substances, and allow it to be sold as a legal agricultural commodity. If prepared to legalize hemp, how long will it be before McConnell comes around to the idea of legalizing cannabis as well?
But wait, there’s more… Former Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, performed a neat 180 in April 2018 when he announced he was joining the board of a marijuana company. After spending his political career in vocal opposition to the legalization of cannabis, Boehner suddenly confirmed that he would henceforth be advocating legalization policies of the plant at federal level.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is yet another example of the growing support across the political system for a change in the way the federal government views the use, cultivation, and support of cannabis. Not only has he advocated cannabis legislation, but he’s worked on the drafting of a bill to specifically establish funding for female-owned and minority-owned cannabis businesses. It’s the year of triumph for the underdog, it seems.
CANNABIS… THE NEW POLITICAL CELEBRITY
Never before has cannabis policy become such a gripping partisan issue in national politics. Is there something in the air that’s generating all this political change? What does this mean for the cannabis industry and how might cannabis culture, as we know it, be affected? What’s clear is that the cannabis community of days gone by, a community that operated almost solely via word-of-mouth, has moved into the spotlight. And this time, instead of facing up to the usual interrogatory light, MayJane now finds herself twinkling in a semi-celebrity political glow.
Despite the possible recent intentions of the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee to defame the plant, cannabis and its surrounding community is dazzling right now. Farmers are receiving political recognition for the quality of their craft, politicians that were once opposed to the industry are now openly praising the potential benefits of the plant, and as each day passes, cannabis-related policy brings more and more republicans and democrats together.
Indeed, in the lead up to the November midterms, and the presidential election in two years time, it seems most probable that the cannabis industry and cannabis policy are given even more political airtime. In fact, we don’t think it’s going too far when we say that, as politicians recognize how cannabis-related issues can help sway the appeal generated among their bases, cannabis and politics have perhaps finally found a way in which they can co-exist. As ever, we’re eager to see how things pan out.
On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Federal Government authorized the removal of hemp from the Schedule I controlled substances list, converting it into an ordinary agricultural commodity overnight. As such, the country’s already seeing evidence of the range of hemp-derived CBD products that are set to take the industry by storm in 2019.
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