Tag: Ron Wyden

Congress Poised to Act on Cannabis as Over 40% of Americans Live in Legal States

With New York, Virginia, and New Mexico joining the growing number of states that have voted to legalize cannabis for adult use, over 40% of Americans now reside in states that have swept Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history where it belongs. When you add the residents of the North Mariana Islands, Guam, and Washington, D.C., over 141 million of Americans of our roughly 328 million citizens now reside where legalization has passed, more than 43% of the total population. Another 15 states and the US Virgin Islands have decriminalized, so it isn’t surprising that 75% of voters either want Uncle Sam to legalize federally or want states to have the right to determine their own destiny on the subject. Only 25% want cannabis to be illegal everywhere. The Reefer Madness Prohibition Fan Club is getting smaller by the day. Now, finally, it appears that Congress will act on a legalization bill in soon. Senate President Chuck Schumer explained to Politico:

In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, “Well what changed?” Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states — Oregon and Colorado — wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen.

The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.

I think the American people started speaking with a clear message— more than two to one — that they want the law changed. When a state like South Dakota votes by referendum to legalize, you know something is out there.

I love the fact that Senator Schumer touts the experiences of Oregon and Colorado as why his thinking on cannabis evolved, especially when the predictions of the Reefer Madness Chicken Littles, that proclaimed the sky was gonna fall, didn’t come to fruition. Interestingly, Oregon’s own Ron Wyden has been named as a senator that Schumer will be working with when the Senate moves forward on legalization. With legalization now a mainstream political position with supermajority support, the Pete Ricketts of the world spouting nonsense about how Nebraskans will be killing their children if they allow medical marijuana, are going to get more desperate, so we must continue working hard to ensure that our representatives follow the will of the voters. We’re almost there. Step by step, state by state, freedom and common sense are on the march.

It’s always a great day to venture into Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, but if you’re into extracts, White Label Extracts are 50% every Saturday until May 1st. Come to beautiful Pendleton, stop into Kind Leaf, peruse from the best selection in the Great Northwest, and every purchase continues to show the powers that be in Washington, D.C., that it’s time to end the federal war on the cannabis community. As always, there are discounts for senior citizens, military veterans, and OMMP patients.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Lays Out Cannabis Legalization Strategy

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to pursue cannabis legalization if voters replaced Mitch McConnell, and it looks like he is going to attempt to follow through. Schumer announced that cannabis reform would be a piece of his economic and racial justice agenda and then stated that he would co-sponsor legalization legislation with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Oregon’s own Ron Wyden. Wyden, as Marijuana Moment reported, layed out the plan to have his Senate Finance Committee handle the cannabis reform agenda on The Source Weekly’s Bend Don’t Break podcast:

“This is a framework that I’ve championed, and I’ll be championing it as chairman,” he told The Source Weekly’s podcast Bend Don’t Break. “You do that and you take care of the banking question, you take care of the tax question, you take care of the research issue and this whole array of issues that have been gridlocked because the federal government on cannabis has been tethered to yesteryear. That has been the central problem.”

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While Wyden didn’t point to any specific bills in the podcast interview, there are numerous pieces of legislation that could fall within his committee’s jurisdiction. That includes comprehensive proposals to federally legalize cannabis that would involve imposing excise taxes on marijuana sales, for example. The Senate version of a House-passed bill to deschedule marijuana and fund programs to repair the harms of the drug war was referred to Finance last session but died without a hearing or a vote under Republican leadership.

The new chairman said that “it’s not enough in my view to just end cannabis prohibition, I think we need to restore the lives of people who’ve been hurt most by the failed war on drugs and especially black Americans.”

If the United States Senate was a purely democratic institution, where a simple majority can always move legislation (I know, crazy), federal cannabis prohibition would end within the next two years. Unfortunately, the Senate’s quirky filibuster rule, which allows one senator to force 60 votes to pass a bill, could derail legalization and the will of the American people. With over 2/3 of Americans now wanting to end the war on cannabis, it’s time for Uncle Sam to act accordingly.

Federal Government Okays Hemp Banking Regulations. Setting the Stage for Cannabis Businesses?

Cannabis legalization has created thousands upon thousands of jobs, generating billions of revenue overall, and putting millions into states’ bank accounts. While the overall numbers look great and the future is bright, there are entirely too many many obstacles blocking the industry from truly flourishing. The hurdles placed in front of cannabis businesses hurt small businesses and mom and pops the most, as big corporations have the deep pockets to wait for better policies to be enacted.

One of the first obstacles that needs to be knocked down is our nation’s current banking regulations that prevent regular access to banking services. The federal government just released guidance for the hemp industry, mandating that banks treat hemp companies the same as any other business. This move should be a stepping stone for Uncle Sam to move onto sensible banking regulations for all cannabis businesses.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has been a leader on hemp, and KTVZ reported on his reaction to news:

“Hemp was legalized almost a year ago, yet Oregon farmers and producers have been forced to ride the roller coaster of uncertainty,” Wyden said. “Slowly but surely, federal regulators are starting to catch up, and these new banking guidelines are an important step toward giving hemp businesses the certainty they need.

“The work doesn’t stop here, however, and more must be done to make sure hemp businesses are treated fairly and allowed to fully realize this legal crop’s economic potential in our state and nationwide.”

Earlier this year, Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote several federal banking and financial regulatory institutions, requesting timely guidance and clarification to ensure lawful hemp farmers and producers in Oregon and nationwide have access to financial services.

Cannabis and hemp policies will likely always be intertwined in some ways. One good step forward for hemp often provides momentum for more progress for the cannabis industry and vice versa. Hopefully, the federal government will get on the ride side of cannabis banking. The SAFE Banking Act is awaiting the United States Senate to do the right thing. Tick tock, senators.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Tours Grön Cannabis Confections

The Oregon cannabis industry has created thousands of jobs and generated millions of dollars for the state, including more than $100 million brought in from tax revenue last year alone. Great progress has been made, but much more still needs to be done, so it was great to see Oregon Senator Ron Wyden tour Grön Cannabis Confections, an Oregon-based company that makes both THC and CBD infused chocolates. (Kind Leaf carries Grön, so come on in and get your holiday season started right.)

From the great reporting over at Marijuana Moment:

The senator has long championed both the marijuana and hemp markets and has continued to advocate for regulations that promote growth in those sectors. For example, prior to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) release of an interim final rule for hemp last week, he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote a letter to the department urging them to expeditiously implement regulations.

When it comes to firms like Grön, “what we have are companies that want to use hemp as a supplement or additive,” Wyden told Portland Business Journal, referring to the need for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop regulations for hemp-derived CBD to be used in supplements and food products.

“Mitch McConnell and I have been trying to get the FDA to speed up its timetable. They originally wrote five years or something,” he said. “We need the federal government with respect to the kind of companies that I’ve just been at, to lay out an official policy of enforcement discretion.”

While it is relative, I and other Oregon political activists may quibble a bit in stating that Senator Wyden “has long championed both the marijuana and hemp markets,” he has certainly come around to the right side of history and has become a strong leader for important federal reforms. Wyden has joined his fellow Oregonian in leading the bipartisan effort to allow cannabis businesses access to banking services.

We all need to do our part in helping the cannabis industry succeed, including shopping at local mom and pops. Ensuring that we elect officials that genuinely care about our growing industry and are working to implement important reforms is a crucial element in ensuring that cannabis entrepreneurs, including mom-and-pop shops like Kind Leaf, can survive and thrive in this competitive market.