Federal Marijuana Reform Requires Bipartisan Compromise, Former GOP Congressional Staffer Says (Op-Ed)

MJ moment

“We should think of cannabis reform as a process rather than a moment. It will take years to get right. But Democrats and Republicans need to trust the federal government can get it right while respecting the rights of states.” By Brendan Belair, former House Judiciary Committee Republican staff director In the spring of 2012, I sat in a room with House Republican leadership as they debated how to approach gay marriage. At that point, same-sex marriage was legal in several conservative states. Members respected the rights of states to act, and some advocated for legislation recognizing the state and federal divide, but no consensus was reached. Although everyone recognized federal legalization was inevitable, inertia prevented a unified Republican approach. Fast forward three years to 2015 when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, with Democrats claiming victory. Republicans were largely silent. In the following election cycle, the issue was absent from Republican presidential politics. The politics of gay marriage moved slowly, until they didn’t. Cannabis now sits in a similar position. The 2020 election cycle saw conservative states like Arizona and South Dakota vote to fully legalize cannabis. Thirsty-six states have now legalized medical marijuana in direct conflict with the federal ban contained in the Controlled Substances Act. Like gay marriage, the states and public momentum are outpacing Republican congressional politics. While in the 116th Congress, Republicans did support thoughtful legislation like the SAFE Banking Act and the STATES Act. This Congress, Republicans must take a step further. Both pieces of legislation provided a safe harbor for states that legalized cannabis in direct contradiction to federal ban, but neither legislative proposal did anything to facilitate interstate commerce, and in providing a “safe harbor” would invite costly and likely numerous legal challenges. Rather than tinker around the edges of an outdated…

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Source : Federal Marijuana Reform Requires Bipartisan Compromise, Former GOP Congressional Staffer Says (Op-Ed)

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