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Federal Cannabis Bills In Political Purgatory

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Federal Cannabis Bills In Political Purgatory

While there has been a great deal of anticipation over the past several months in regards to whether the CARERS Act would pass in 2015, some of the latest reports reveal that this legislation, which seeks to legalize medical cannabis at the federal level, has not managed to attract enough bipartisan support to catapult its agenda into the forefront of nationwide reform.

Although a number of Democrats have stepped up in support of the CARERS Act, most recently Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the bill simply has not managed to pick up enough Republican supporters to advance it into the next phase of the legislative process.

Unfortunately, this means the proposal is unlikely to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee until, at the very least, after the August recess. Yet, recent comments made by Chairman Charles Grassley indicating that he wants to “talk to other Republican members” before giving the bill any attention, suggests that it is most likely resting in a limp state of committee limbo, perhaps, indefinitely.

Early last week, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the primary sponsors of the CARERS Act, told Roll Call that it has been difficult to secure a third co-sponsor for the bill, and that none of the Republicans they have met with have agreed to come aboard.

As of right now, there are a total of 16 sponsors behind this legislation, but there simply are not enough Republicans in the mix to give it a fighting chance.

Although the national trend suggests a more tolerant population in regards to the legalization of cannabis, this movement is not prominent on Capitol Hill. Sure, it appears that more Democrats join the push to legalize weed each and every day, but until there is a larger percentage of Republican support, the efforts to motivate national change will remain fruitless.

Sadly, even some of the Republican lawmakers who have come forward in support of the Obama Administration’s recent policy changes, allowing easier access to medical marijuana research, these people, which include Senators Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have all but refused to put their names on the CARERS Act.

In her defense, however, Warren recently signed on as a cosponsor for the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2015, which would allow banks to work with the marijuana industry. But that bill, too, has reportedly stalled in committee.

Because legislation pertaining to cannabis has been largely unsuccessful in advancing to the next level, some lawmakers plan to work through the pain by drafting appropriations riders to be included in the next federal spending bill – this, in an effort to perform some quasi, temporary legalization voodoo to tide them over until 2016.

In fact, a variation of the marijuana banking bill squeezed though the political gatekeeper last week in this manner, with several others expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.

The problem with this approach, however, at least in the eyes of some lawmakers, is that while appropriations bills will likely pass every year, these types of measures cannot provide “long-term solutions” for the cause.

Essentially, what it all comes down to is as long as Republican support is lacking on all issues pertaining to marijuana, every single piece of legislation that proposes even the most minute federal reform will be left to linger in a state of political purgatory. It is upon this revelation one must consider that in order to progress in the modification of our national pot laws, we must first find a way to eliminate Republican domination in Washington, D.C. – either by voting them out, or by cleverly persuading them to defect to the side of common sense.

Until then, all of the hype surrounding the introduction of federal pot bills appears to be nothing more than the fan fare and wishful thinking of activists across the nation.
Do you think Republicans will allow federal cannabis bills to be approved? Share your opinion in the comments.

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