Representative Earl Blumenauer’s (D, OR) H.R. 420 in the 116th Congress (2019-2020) is currently making its way through subcommittees, for consideration in the House later this year. This bill, named the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” would remove cannabis from its federal status as a Schedule I drug, and allow it to be controlled and commodified like alcohol.
This is not the first proposed act to end cannabis prohibition. As recently as the 115th Congress, Thomas Garrett’s (R, VA) H.R. 1227, “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017,” and Cory Booker’s (D, NJ) various “Marijuana Justice Acts,” were all down-voted. Booker, now running for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, has reintroduced his bill this year as well. There are several key reasons that H.R. 420 is more likely to succeed where others have failed, that we’ll list here on the Fire & Frost Cannabis blog.
Capitalism Is King
Blumenauer is going at prohibition repeal the right way. H.R. 420 (in conjunction with Blumenauer’s H.R. 1120, the “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” addresses cannabis as the commodity that it is, and asks the federal government to regulate and tax weed like it does liquor and beer. It’s almost amazing to think that the government wouldn’t collect its’ due on a product that operates in the BILLIONS of dollars (until you remember the prison industrial complex and that “mari(h/j)uana” has been used for nearly a century as an excuse to incarcerate people).
H.R. 420 isn’t saying, “Hey, you’ve been unfair to our constituencies!,” as Garrett and Booker’s bills do. Those actions are laudable and necessary, but laughable to a government that operates in capitalism’s sake, and whose current position is that “marijuana” is “highly addictive and has no medical benefit.” Blumenauer’s bills are saying, “Hey, there’s a commodity that is incredibly lucrative and this is how we take our cut.” This bill gets to the heart of how our government ACTUALLY operates.
Right Person/Right Time
Whereas New Jersey and Virginia are medical cannabis states, Oregon is recreational. Blumenauer, representing Oregon (whose cannabis and hemp production, according to Marijuana Business Daily, is third after Colorado and Kentucky, respectively1), co-founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. He is ideally suited to present the case for how much money can be made from legalizing weed federally. He can demonstrate to his fellow legislators the revenue Oregon and the other states in the C.C.C. have collected in taxes from cannabis and invite the federal government to do the same.
2019 is the perfect time to introduce this legislation too, riding on the coattails of the 2018 US Farm Bill, which decriminalized industrial hemp production. That the Farm Bill was championed by Mitch McConnell (R, KY), Senate Majority Leader, speaks volumes of the hemp industry’s revenues to be able to lobby so greatly in Kentucky. In the past 10 years of legalization on the West Coast, the cannabis industry has grown sizeably, and has bought a seat at the table with our legislators, who are now actively working to end prohibition.
Most Americans Want Legal Weed
A poll last year by Pew Research2 indicates that more than 60% of Americans are in favor of cannabis prohibition repeal. Combine that with the economic data and the presentation of the proposal to legislators, and it looks like all Americans will be free to inhale by the 2020’s. While the end of cannabis prohibition won’t affect us much at Fire & Frost in Vancouver, WA, it will be a major benefit for the farms here in the Pacific Northwest. As states without cannabis programs scramble to catch up, they’ll likely be looking to import product from neighboring states, to supply their local demand. This is likely part of Blumenauer’s strategy to help offset Oregon’s cannabis surplus.
If you’re in the PDX area and are 21 or over, come exercise your cannabis rights at Fire & Frost Cannabis, located at 6818 NE Fourth Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661. Fire & Frost is Vancouver’s premier cannabis store, with a wide selection of flower, concentrates, and edibles to suit your tastes and needs.