It seems as though more states are adopting a medical and/or recreational law toward cannabis consumption. Could this mean the end of prohibition of cannabis in America is approaching? It may be even closer than we think.
Currently, the U.S. has 11 states that recognize cannabis for recreational consumption. While 33 states recognize marijuana for medical use, including the District of Colombia. The first step in the right direction came about with the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill made hemp cultivation, sales and consumption across the country legal. Yet, the issue with this nationwide bill is that states are at liberty to adopt their own hemp laws. For example, Idaho does not allow the cultivation of hemp. This posed a problem to a truck driver transporting hemp across state lines. A police officer confiscated a truck driver’s large supply of “pot.” However, it turns out it is almost impossible to distinguish between pot and hemp with the naked eye. This confusion leaves legal suppliers susceptible to raids or police busts. Could a possible solution to this confusion be legalization across the board?
Congress certainly seems to think so. This year alone, three new bills have been introduced. Bills that would legitimize the cannabis industry.
The House of Representatives passed a historic bill, the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide safety measures for banks who service marijuana-related businesses. As long as those cannabis companies comply with state laws, banks would be protected from federal prosecution. This is a big win for the cannabis industry, considering it has been mostly a cash industry. The bill has passed with Congress, and now we wait for the president to sign it into law.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (MORE) was proposed. Additionally, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019. MORE would decriminalize and remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act. This act has had a lasting impact on people of color who have suffered from the war on drugs. This act would be a step in the right direction to reverse the damages made by the harmful prohibition policies.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana. In the same way, this bill aims to remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 drug list. An end to prohibition would limit criminal penalties to those legal companies who would import, export, manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute.
Maybe we can look to our neighbor up north, Canada, for inspiration? Canada is providing a blueprint by which other countries can use to roll out proper cannabis legislation. In 2018, Canada legalized recreational cannabis for certain cannabis products. Legal pot sales began in October of 2018. A year later, Canada has rolled out legal sales for derivative cannabis products: edibles, vapes, concentrates, etc. This year lapse has allowed their Parliament to adjust to the changes of going legal. Is this a model the U.S. could follow?
What’s the next move for the U.S? It is hard to tell which bills will go into effect, but the future seems bright. California is at the forefront of this new era. The state introduced the first cannabis cafe in the country. Lowell Cafe recently opened in Southern California as the first cannabis cafe to allow guests to buy, consume and enjoy cannabis in their space. Crowds are flocking to the new cafe to celebrate the end of prohibition in California. The cafe also offers a vast menu of flowers, concentrate and edibles for guests to enjoy. What a time to be alive. The possibilities are sky-high.