Is Federal Marijuana Reform a Possibility?
The US Senate election results may affect cannabis legislation at the federal level. While five states legalized either medical or adult-use cannabis this past election, the question of whether Congress will consider federal cannabis policy reform has no clear answer yet.
However, there is hope.
Many Democrats have long-supported the legalization of both recreational and medical marijuana, but the Republican party has been historically slower at accepting the idea. In recent years, however, Republican leaders have become increasingly open to cannabis reform despite the potential of losing voters as a result. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) openly supported cannabis reform during his first term and will continue to do so during his second term, for instance. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R) was a primary cannabis proponent in the Senate, and will likely still champion federal cannabis reform despite losing his seat to Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in this year’s election.
Although there is no guarantee that federal marijuana reform is imminent, Republican leaders may begin to heavily consider their constituents’ stance on legalization. Understandably, countless Republican representatives and senators want to protect their candidacy by opposing cannabis reform, but if their constituents voted in favor of reform and/or legalization, it may be in their best interests to support that as well.
Two January runoff elections in Georgia will determine which party controls the Senate, and some speculate that federal cannabis reform is possible if Democrats win both runoff elections. However, Don Murphy, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project and a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, stated that 30 Senators come from states that legalized adult-use cannabis, therefore the focus should not only be on Democratic control. He supports his statement by explaining that if Democratic Senators don’t co-sponsor legislation in support of cannabis policy reform, then it is unrealistic to expect Republican Senators to do so.
Why Does Cannabis Policy Reform Matter?
These ideas are important to keep in mind, as hundreds of thousands of Americans get arrested for marijuana-related charges. In 2018, 663,367 arrests were made for marijuana law violations, and out of that number, 608,775 arrests were for marijuana possession. Even more alarming is that 4-in-10 US drug arrests in 2018 were for marijuana offenses, mostly possession, as reported by the Pew Research Center.
As such, I am hopeful that the federal government strongly considers decriminalizing cannabis nationwide, as it could save time, money, resources, and, importantly, lives. In the meantime, however, the Florida Police Department will continue to arrest individuals suspected of illegal marijuana possession, sale, manufacturing, trafficking, cultivation, and more.
If you are accused of a drug crime in Miami, know that you can count on me, a former prosecutor with 35+ years of experience and a track record for defending thousands of criminal cases. To get started, contact me at (305) 330-1976!