So far the task of loosening marijuana laws has been left to individual states to implement. But that changed when the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives last month.
“The states have been carrying the water for the pro-marijuana forces for several years but that may finally start to change,” said Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, a cannabis industry lawyer. “The federal government is about to get involved in a big way. Uniform national marijuana laws are certainly now on the table.”
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has already laid out a blueprint to advance national marijuana legislation. Blumenauer’s plan could begin as soon as Democrats take the gavel next month, he said. His strategy would include starting to move the 37 bills currently unable to make it to the House floor under Republicans onto committee schedules for hearings and proposed legislation.
Here are some of the House committees that could be looking at marijuana issues and what they would be considering:
The House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Blumenauer wants the House to “deschedule” marijuana. It is currently labeled a “Schedule 1” drug, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use.” Cannabis advocates have been trying to change that classification since 1972.
House Veterans Affairs Committee. Hearings may be held on proposed legislation to give veterans access to medical marijuana.
House Financial Services Committee. The focus would be on banking changes. Right now cannabis businesses are unable to use banks, causing them to operate on an all-cash basis, which makes them more susceptible to robberies and violence. There are many other advantages for cannabis producers if they could have access to banking institutions.
Further optimism about the future of passing national marijuana laws is due the removal of two major roadblocks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired by President Donald Trump and Texas Rep. Pete Sessions was defeated by Democrat Colin Allred. Although Jeff Sessions had more of a national profile, Rep. Pete Sessions was arguably more important for pro-marijuana forces to remove because he was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. He has been credited with keeping almost all marijuana legislation from reaching the floor of Congress for a vote.
“No marijuana bill could get a floor vote under Representative Sessions,” Parrish said. “He was probably the biggest legislative roadblock to comprehensive national marijuana legislation. Now that he is gone, there is a lot of optimism that many of these bills may finally get a vote.”
About Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish
Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish (www.sarahleegossettparrish.com) is an attorney who maintains a practice. She is a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association and National Cannabis Industry Association. She is admitted to practice in all state and federal District Courts in Oklahoma; the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Parrish received her BA in Letters from the University of Oklahoma, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude. She also served as Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women for the state of Oklahoma and was instrumental in starting the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame. She received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.