In a move that has some people up-in-arms, a Republican congressman has proposed a bill that could dramatically reduce the availability of federal funds to states, as well as tribal governments, if they opt to legalize marijuana. For many, this creates a difficult decision and ethical dilemma: should they embrace the potential social and economic advantages associated with the legalization of marijuana, despite the costs?
1. Congress Challenges Marijuana Legalization With Proposed Cuts
Congress recently proposed a series of legislative measures that put into question the progress made in legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical usage. The proposed cuts would restrict legal marijuana businesses from accessing many of the banking, tax, and funding systems available to other companies.
The cuts would have immediate and long-term effects for both legal and illegal marijuana businesses. Market restrictions, decreased funding, and an inability to access standard banking systems would put an immediate stop to some marijuana operations. Further, it could shrink the legal marijuana industry and drive potential entrepreneurs away, all while encouraging the continued operation of more dangerous, unregulated black market businesses.
- Businesses subject to the cuts would lose access to the banking, tax, and funding systems available to other companies.
- The cuts would have immediate and long-term impacts on both legal and illegal marijuana businesses.
- It could restrict the legal marijuana market and discourage potential entrepreneurs.
2. Cutting Federal Funding for States and Tribes Legalizing Cannabis
The Federal government’s refusal to recognize cannabis as a legal commodity means that they are immune in providing financial aid to States and Tribes that have legalized its use. This lack of support has created a difficult situation for these local organizations that rely on government funding for essential services.
As Federal funds are being held back, legal cannabis providers struggle to find other sources of supplies and services. This has made it increasingly difficult for them to continue their operations and expand their businesses. To help fill the financial shortfall, many of these providers have had to resort to raising prices or reconsidering the business offerings. For instance, some have reduced customer loyalty programs, discounted services, limited advertised products, or increased advertising fees.
3. GOP Congressman’s Push to Curb Cannabis Legislation Progress
In recent months, Republican Congressman have been pushing to put an end to the expanding access to cannabis across the United States. Their efforts have ranged from attempts to block legislation at a federal level to curbing it within individual states.
Prominent among their plans has been to classify marijuana as a dangerous drug again, which would knock it out of the medical sphere and cause its reclassification as a schedule I drug, putting it in the same category as heroin. In addition, they have proposed:
- Ending federal funding for medical marijuana research. This would put a stop to further exploration of marijuana’s therapeutic potential.
- Stopping the transportation of marijuana between states. Even though over half of all states in the US have legalized medical marijuana, there is currently a loophole allowing for its transportation across state lines, which the GOP aims to close.
- Cutting veterans’ access to medical marijuana. As reported in weekly press conferences, they have actively attempted to remove the ability for veterans to receive access to medical marijuana.
4. Impact of Funding Cuts for Weed Legalization Efforts
Funding cuts can have a profound effect when it comes to the legalization of cannabis. On the one hand, it can slow the progress of cannabis research and hinder public access to legal services. On the other, it can lead to a direct reduction in resources already supporting the initiatives.
- Reduction in Research: A lack of funding can put a strain on resources for research, meaning those investigating the potential uses and effects of cannabis may struggle to make progress without sufficient financial support.
- Cut to Legal Service Access: Legal services, such as consultations and assistance with obtaining licences, are also adversely affected. With reduced funding, essential services may become financially unattainable for many individuals.
These cuts, in different forms, are having an impact on the ability of many to access the legal benefits of marijuana in a legitimate and meaningful manner. Without adequate financial support, some of the progress already made in this field may begin to stutter.
The GOP Congressman’s bill is an important issue in the conversation about marijuana legalization. Time will tell what the outcome of this bill will be, but one thing is certain: using federal funding to push a political agenda simply isn’t the right way to go.