Photo by René DeAnda via Unsplash
It would appear that changing over the Senate is even more important than who is President on this particular issue.
Many in the cannabis industry have, understandably, backed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and VP, presumably for a variety of reasons which include a belief that they are more likely to support legalizing cannabis at the federal level. Many are not as aware that President Donald Trump has stated that he is, in his words, “100%” in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, and that he believes recreational or adult use should be decided by the states, although early in his 2016 campaign he said he opposed legalizing adult use.
The truth is, as many have discovered, the Biden campaign has almost the same view as Mr. Trump. The former VP will support the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, leave decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, and reschedule cannabis as a Schedule II drug. If Trump supports legalization essentially in this manner, then why has it not been enacted since his inauguration? There are primarily three barriers to this, and their names are Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, Mike Crapo and Lindsey Graham. But let’s step back.
In January 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole Memo in the Justice Department which deemphasized federal prosecution of state legal cannabis enterprises. In response to this, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) told the President he would hold up all his judicial nominees until he addressed the issue. A few months later he was able to talk to Trump, who assured him that if a bill came to his desk legalizing medical marijuana and leaving adult use to the states, he would sign it. Gardner then backed off his resistance to Trump’s judges.
Shortly thereafter, Gardner, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, then reintroduced it a year later. A companion bill was also introduced in the House. The bill would take the steps Trump said he would accept in legalizing medical marijuana and allowing states to legalize adult use.
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