Federal lawmakers are recognizing the need to update cannabis laws, and new legislation will soon be filed that seeks to make sweeping changes to existing federal marijuana policies. This may be a step in the right direction toward the eventual legalization of cannabis at the federal level, but it is just that—a step.
1. Federal Marijuana Rescheduling: Breaking Down the Legislative Process
The future of marijuana in the United States is hanging in the balance due to the federal government’s classification of the drug. The re-scheduling of marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II or III drug would be an immense victory for those championing the legalization effort. But how would the government go about such a monumental task?
The legislative process for cannabis re-scheduling is both investigative and multi-step. Here’s a breakdown of how the United States would proceed:
- Designate a Government Leading Body: The government must create and designate a special committee to investigate all aspects of the drug to ensure safety regulations and proper procedures are in place. This committee must abide by certain guidelines regulated by the US government and be assigned to this pursuit until all pertinent data is collected.
- Provide Evidence: Any and all scientific or medical studies regarding marijuana must be extensively researched and presented to the governing body in order to make an informed decision. Both supportive and dissenting viewpoints should be evaluated in an unbiased manner.
- Review and Make a Decision: The government must review all evidence submitted and discuss the facts before making a decision about whether or not they will re-schedule marijuana to a less restrictive classification. The ruling may be made by a public referendum or through direct legislation.
After all steps are finished, a public comment period must be held for the citizens’ voices to be heard and taken into consideration. In the end, proper links to reports must be published so everyone can read and understand the results of this great undertaking.
2. Examining the Path To Cannabis Legalization
The road to cannabis legalization is a long and winding one, full of complex turns and bumps along its journey. It’s only been in recent years that support for legalization has grown, and now it has advanced into a much more mainstream discussion.
The path to legalization began with a push for medical purposes. Support for cannabis use for medicinal purposes grew rapidly and eventually became the foundation for legislative push to legalize it for recreational use in several US states.
- The legalization of cannabis for medicinal use, and later for recreational use, is made possible by the research showing its potential benefits.
- Through public support and advocacy, local and state governments have been presented with enough evidence that cannabis has potential medical applications.
- An initiative to “decriminalize” cannabis in many US states has been the first step to wider full legalization.
States began to take advantage of the new tax income to be had from the sale of cannabis and pushed for full legalization. If the trend of cannabis decriminalization continues, expect more US states to take the leap to full legalization in the near future.
3.Seeing Beyond the Smoke: Moving Cannabis Reform Forward
As the smoke surrounding cannabis continues to clear, it’s important to look ahead and see how reform can move forward. Here are two areas in particular that are essential to progress.
- Research: cannabinoid therapies are currently at their infancy, and more research must be conducted to gain a better understanding unique benefits of this medicine. Efforts should also be made to further investigate potential risks and side effects.
- Legislative Change: Positive strides have been made with various states and countries legalizing cannabis. As humanities’ collective understanding of this plant evolves, so should society’s laws and policies to support the long-term shift towards an informed and normalized medical and adult-use cannabis industry.
As the stigma falls behind, it’s important that those interested in cannabis continue to being a part of the conversation around this powerful plant.
4. Uncovering Washington’s Plans for the Future of Cannabis Policy
There’s no question that the future of cannabis policy in Washington is promising for both recreational and medical users. The state has made clear that they fully intend to maintain the Marijuana Regulatory Framework, which classifies recreational cannabis activity as legal and includes expansive testing and labelling regulations to ensure quality products. In addition, the state is committed to supporting youth prevention and education initiatives, providing health services related to marijuana use, and finding ways to ensure a safe and vibrant cannabis industry.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is currently working on several upcoming bills that will shape the future of cannabis policy in the state. For medical cannabis, the Legislature is poised to approve bills that will offer more protections to patients and make it easier for medical providers to open up for business. More licensing options, laboratory testing, and product labeling regulations will also be on the table. As for recreational cannabis, the state is looking to expand access in a variety of ways including allowing social use cannabis establishments and delivery services in certain communities.
Federal cannabis rescheduling may just be the first of many steps needed on Congress’ path to full legalization. Until then, lawmakers both new and old will continue to push for change. We will continue to wait and watch with anticipation, hoping for a day when cannabis can be appropriately authorized and accessible to everyone.