How Close Are We to Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition?
The time to decriminalize cannabis on the federal level is now.
Weirdness erupts when a snake begins to eat its own tail. It is what the alchemists refer to as Ouroboros, which is commonly used as a symbol for the cycles of life and infinity. But in the real world, only in times of great stress and confusion will the serpent devour its own body. This act of self-cannibalization typically pops off when a snake is rendered insane by a drastic fluctuation in its environment. It’s what these cold-blooded beasts do when the heat catches up with them and they are left without a means to cool down. Their minds warp and they attack themselves. It is a process that usually means the hell ride is not far. Even the rattlesnake will strike at itself toward the end.
In terms of pot politics, it could be said that President Donald Trump is the great orange Ouroboros surrounding the cannabis community. Only instead of being an inspirational symbol of wholeness and renewed life, he has morphed into a sigil of the unsane. Trump has no choice but to get sane on marijuana reform.
The president spent a large portion of his campaign preaching a modest spiel of pro-cannabis reform, babbling to his supporters about being in favor of medical marijuana “100 percent” and allowing the individual states to establish recreational pot laws.
But all of the promises changed to some degree after Trump officially took over the White House. It was then that he put former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions in charge of running the show over the U.S. Department of Justice. It was a move that gave life to an administration that reeked of Nixon’s drug war halitosis. There was just no denying that the Trump presidency was less than enthusiastic about going soft on marijuana.
For more than a year after assuming the role as attorney general, Sessions used a barrage of psychological warfare against the cannabis industry. Although he never made a legitimate move, there was always the implication that he was formulating a plan of attack. A federal marijuana crackdown could have made headlines any day over the course of the past 16 months.
The Trump administration even went as far as to imply that all of this legal marijuana business was the root of the national opioid crisis. So by January of 2018, when Sessions moved to rescind an Obama-era memo that allowed states to experiment with legal weed with federal interference, much of the cannabis industry had abandoned all hope. Most were of the opinion that the threat of drug soldiers marching in to crack down was just a part of doing business. And the head games worked. In fact, Sessions’ anti-marijuana comments are largely credited for forcing some of the more courageous players in the banking industry to jettison their relationships with cannabis businesses.
But that all changed last week when President Trump “promised” U.S. Senator Cory Gardner that he wouldn’t put the kibosh on legal marijuana. Although the president hasn’t put anything in writing, nor has the Department of Justice issued any sort of guidance with respect to the new policy, the word on the street is that Trump is no longer looking to dismantle the cannabis trade. This news has inspired a handful of federal lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, to introduce legislation aimed at legalizing (or at least decriminalizing) the leaf at the national level.
“I’ll be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other,” Schumer told Vice News. “I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.”
It almost seems that some of the anti-pot goons on Capitol Hill are starting to see the light. It is for this reason that political analysts believe that federal marijuana prohibition is on borrowed time.
In a recent piece from the American Prospect, journalist Paul Waldman predicts that the course of marijuana reform across the nation will most likely change “three years from now.”
“That’s when we may find ourselves with a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president — both of whom would have made a promise to end the federal prohibition and leave the matter up to the states,” he wrote. “At that point, Republican opposition may have dimmed to the point where it isn’t even much of a fight.”
How far will the weirdness go? That’s hard to tell. President Trump has the ability to take his pro-pot position up a notch. It is well within his power to initiate the rescheduling process. Although this move would not legalize the leaf in all 50 states, dropping the cannabis plant from its Schedule I classification would completely change the dynamic at the national level. It might even inspire Congress to give serious consideration to eliminating the cannabis plant from the confines of the Controlled Substances Act altogether.
Trump has not given any indication that he plans to do any of these things. It was reported that only reason he “promised” to assume a hands-off approach to legal weed is to finally get Senator Gardner to stop blocking his DOJ nominees. We all know Trump will say anything to seal a deal.
But one way or another, nationwide marijuana legalization will happen soon enough, Waldman says. He predicts that this year’s election will put the nation on an imminent course for a taxed and regulated cannabis market. It’s coming in four years, he said.
“There’s a good chance that Democrats will take back the House this November, then win the presidency and control of the Senate in 2020,” he wrote. “With control of the government in hand, 2021 would see a raft of progressive legislation on a variety of issues, many of which will produce bitter, lengthy legislative battles. But ending the federal marijuana ban? That one will be relatively easy.”
TELL US, do you think the federal government will ever legalize cannabis?