Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill Unveiled, Oregon Helping Lead the Way

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to unveil a cannabis legalization bill and he’s delivered on that front, along with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. The draft proposal is another step in the right direction for the cannabis community, but there is still work to be done to ensure that legalization is done right. Fortunately, those of us who understand the harm that Reefer Madness has caused our nation, we have never been in a stronger position to end federal prohibition while also ensuring that important equity provisions are included.

OPB spoke with Oregon’s Jesce Horton, founder and chief executive of LOWD:

“For Horton, legitimizing the cannabis industry will require direct focus on two specific aspects of legislation. The first is ensuring that people who have been the target of criminal prohibition of cannabis are released from jail and have their records expunged in ways that allow them the same opportunities as any other American. Second, the effort needs to also focus on providing paths for formerly incarcerated people and traditionally marginalized groups to establish small businesses in their communities within the framework of a legal industry.

“That means allowing the industry to connect with funding sources in America’s banking system — something that federal prohibition currently excludes cannabis businesses from doing — and establishing financial regulations that protect marijuana businesses both physically and fiscally.

“Horton points to the fact that consumers still have to use cash to make purchases as a barrier to legitimizing the cannabis industry. It also leads to unsafe situations for business owners and their employees to be easy targets of crime.”

Drug Policy Alliance, the national reform organization that has played a leading role passing important legislation across the nation, including Measure 91 and Measure 110 here in Oregon, issued a statement praising the Senate draft bill for including social equity, reparative justice and reinvestment. However, DPA’s Marita Perez noted that they are not entirely pleased with the language:

“To our dismay, the Senate draft contains exclusionary language that ended up getting added to the House-passed MORE Act last year that would continue to subject federal employees to drug testing and deny certain individuals—who have already paid the highest price—the opportunity to expunge their records. In order for this bill to truly end marijuana prohibition in a comprehensive way and begin to repair the egregious harms of the past, we cannot continue to make room for some to be left out because of laws that were unjust and racist to begin with. 
“We call on the House to remove exclusionary language from the MORE Act and swiftly pass the bill and implore the Senate to also remove this language ahead of bill introduction.”

Nobody said that changing Uncle Sam’s stance on marijuana was gonna be easy. It’s one thing to get a majority of politicians on board with the general concept of legalization, it’s another to hammer out the details when various special interests start flexing their financial and political power. However, it feels great to be on the precipice of finally ending one of our longest mistakes, the nonsensical notion that the United States of America, the Land of the Free, should wage a decades-long war against the nonviolent cannabis community. There’s more work to be done, but it’s good to take a moment to be pleased with freedom and common sense are on the march, shaking up the halls of Congress.

Kind Leaf is looking forward to the day federal prohibition ends as no one should have their life ruined for utilizing cannabis. Additionally, normalizing banking laws and the tax code will allow Pendleton’s premier craft cannabis boutique to provide even lower prices to our amazing customers.

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