Renewed hope of federal marijuana legalization in 2021 have been restored after several senators – including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer – recently vowed to press forward with expansive legislation to end U.S. prohibition on cannabis. As our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers can explain, this is the next logical step given that so many states – including California – have already lifted prohibition (albeit to varying degrees).
The reform that Schumer and other lawmakers are discussing would also have a restorative justice element for those previously convicted of marijuana-related offenses.
The failed “War on Drugs” has inevitably proved to be a war on people (namely, people and communities of color). Ending prohibition is essential, but it’s really just the start. Some of the damage can never be undone, but restorative justice measures that erase criminal records for non-violent marijuana-related offenses is necessary to begin turning the tide and helping the communities that have been decimated by these drug policies.
This is especially important in light of the fact that California, like many other states, have legalized the drug and opened the door for growing, harvesting, processing and sales to turn a profit – while individuals are still serving decades-long sentences for the very same deeds.
Senators planned to release a draft of comprehensive reform legislation sometime in the first half of the year, with the goal of passing that reform later this year.
In addition to tossing prohibition and enacting some form of restorative justice, the lawmakers said the package should have some type of uniform tax and regulatory rules to help make the process easier for those traveling or doing business across state lines. That could potentially mean markets will be substantially more open.
This isn’t the first time Schumer and others in Congress have pressed for cannabis decriminalization laws. This time, though, it seems the measure has a real shot at passing – particularly given the growing public support for marijuana legalization. A Gallup poll late last year revealed nearly 70 percent of Americans were in favor of legalizing the plant. What’s more, every single initiative that involved legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in the U.S. last year passed.
Just this year, voters in both Arizona and New Jersey approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. Even historically much more conservative states, like Mississippi, agreed to legalize it for medicinal use. As it now stands, 36 states allow medicinal use of the drug while 15 and the District of Columbia allow it for adult recreational use. Oregon has even taken it a step further by decriminalizing hard drugs.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Democratic senators will push to pass pot reform bill this year, Feb. 1, 2020, By Christian Nunley, CNBC