Marijuana Business Magazine July 2018

COLUMN: TRENDS AND HOT TOP¬CS T he feds are coming. And, in this case, that’s good news. The chances of serious mari- juana reform in the halls of Congress have increased dramatically in recent months, with major political names from both Republican and Demo- cratic camps embracing the cause of changing federal cannabis laws. The list of politicos that have begun backing marijuana reform is a veritable who’s who in Washington DC — to the point where supporters now outnumber opponents. From President Donald Trump to vari- ous U.S. senators and even former House Speaker John Boehner – an Ohio Republican – political leaders are finally taking national cannabis legalization seriously. But there’s a catch. Several, actually. First and foremost: The onboard- ing of powerful politicians to the marijuana reform train probably won’t translate into congressional action in 2018. That’s partly because plenty of congressional committee chairs – such as Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Texas Republi- can U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions – are so anti-marijuana they won’t grant any Federal Reform Moves into View Bipartisan support and midterm elections increase the likelihood of favorable legislation – but not this year By John Schroyer John Schroyer cannabis bills a committee hearing, much less a vote. That means cannabis reform may not get real congressional attention until January 2019. Impact of a Democratic Victory The odds of that happening would go up even more if Democrats retake one or both chambers of Congress in the November midterm elections, as many political pundits expect. Demo- crats have traditionally been friendlier toward marijuana reform than their GOP counterparts. Even if the Democrats win, expect some major behind-the-scenes nego- tiations before any bills make it to the White House for the president’s signature. Not only will there be disagreements among stakeholders over which bills to push forward, but also what particulars to include or how legislation should be amended. For instance, there’s likely to be a huge debate over rescheduling versus descheduling marijuana. Given that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has already promised a bill to deschedule cannabis, that may be the starting point for Congress. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was on board with moving cannabis to Schedule 2 on the list of federally controlled substances – a move that would be welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry and its numerous lobby- ists, which then would be poised to make quick inroads into the medical The list of politicos that have begun backing marijuana reform is a veritable who’s who in Washington DC. 32 • Marijuana Business Magazine • July 2018