Cannabis Reform May Be Right Around The Corner

By Lindsey Weedston 01/25/19

“It would not be shocking to see the end of federal marijuana prohibition signed into law this year,” said Tom Angell, a marijuana reform advocate.

protesters marching for cannabis reform

The influx of new members in the U.S. House of Representatives and the ousting of certain key anti-marijuana figures from the federal government could herald the approach of a "green tide," according to a recent report released by Politico.

Along with the many Democrats who claimed seats in the House, new governors from both parties appear to be significantly more cannabis-friendly as well, as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana.

The departure of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions could also pave the way to federal legalization, or at least a change from marijuana's current status as a Schedule I substance—a federal designation reserved for the most dangerous substances including heroin. 

Although the attorney general was seen as a serious obstacle to pro-cannabis legislation, Smoke Wallin, president of the cannabis company Vertical, was much more concerned about U.S. Representative Pete Sessions.

This past November, Rep. Sessions lost his bid for re-election. As chairman of the House Rules Committee, he was active in blocking any legislation involving cannabis from reaching the House floor.

With Rep. Sessions gone, cannabis experts are expecting that the backlog of bills will soon be addressed, and members of Congress are reportedly “lining up” to file new pro-cannabis bills.

Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) have reintroduced the CARERS Act, which would “expand marijuana research, allow VA doctors to discuss pot with veteran patients and prevent the federal government from meddling with state-legal programs,” Politico reports. However, the bill would keep the Schedule I designation for cannabis.

The appropriately-named HR 420, also known as the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act, would “de-schedule” marijuana so that it is no longer treated as a dangerous substance and allow it to be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

With the Senate still under Republican control, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, who has been hesitant to support pro-cannabis legislation in the past, it may remain difficult to make change through the Senate. However, experts are encouraged by the recent legalization of hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It would not be shocking to see the end of federal marijuana prohibition signed into law this year,” said Tom Angell of Marijuana Moment. “This is the first time that actually seems achievable.”

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at Twitter: