Marijuana legalization efforts are moving forward following a reform hearing on Wednesday concerning the drug. During Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Tom McClintock expressed an optimism that legalization efforts could extend across the aisle: “It ought to be crystal clear to everyone that our laws have not accomplished their goals,” McClintock said.
Currently, a number of marijuana bills are on the table, including the STATES Act (PDF), put forth by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Cory Gardner, which seeks to provide individual states with the right to decide how marijuana is regulated without fear of facing repercussions from federal agencies. The goal of this bill is to act as an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act.
The Marijuana Justice Act, sponsored by Senator Cory Booker, is another candidate for marijuiana reform. It seeks to legalize the drug and also clear the records of anyone having served time for possession or use of marijuana.
If this historic reform pans out, the impact of marijuana legalization will be felt across all marijuana stocks, including Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) and Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) which are both down 25% from their 2019 highs. Even with bipartisan support, however, reaching a consensus on the best path forward still appears problematic.
Many lawmakers clashed over the idea of what broad-scale marijuana reform should be and how all of its nuances should be handled. One major point of contention is just how should marijuana reform in the U.S. deal with the repairment of communities crippled by year-after-year of President Nixon’s costly war on drugs.
The following are some key highlights from the historic hearing:
- With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, efforts to legalize or reduce restrictions on marijuana will likely pass in the House.
- A Republican-controlled Senate could put a stop to any new laws that seek to cut down the red tape around the drug.
- Across-the-aisle support is a possibility, however, and lawmakers believe marijuana legalization in 2019 could be on the table with bipartisan effort.
- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a major roadblock to national marijuana reform.
- Chairwoman Karen Bass accused the war on drugs of being “racially biased from its inception.”
- Tom McClintock pushed back on Bass’ claims, accusing Democrats of “decid[ing] to play the race card in this hearing.”
- Malik Burnett, a physician at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, testified that marijuana policy has been “a tale of two Americas” where the privileged are starting cannabis companies and the marginalized have had their lives ruined by marijuana-related convictions.
- Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby weighed in, saying “there is little public safety value related to the current enforcement of marijuana laws.”
- Rep. Matt Gaetz, a co-sponsor of the STATES Act, believes his colleagues should support the bill despite it not going far enough with regard to social issues.
- Physician David Nathan argued that consenting adults should have never been barred from using marijuana in the first place, comparing it to more harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco.
The biggest takeaway from the hearing on national marijuana reform is that both sides of the aisle can agree we need to change how we treat marijuana in the U.S. While this doesn’t guarantee marijuana legalization in 2019, it is definitely a bright spot for activists and investors in pot stocks.
Rep. Ted Lieu summed it up best with an aside on how much progress we’ve actually made in America over the past 15 years: “If 15 years ago I were to tell you, in 15 years we would have gay marriage in 50 states and, in some of those states, we’d be smoking weed, you’d think I was crazy—but that is in fact what is happening now.”
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As of this writing, William White did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.