Cannabis is already out of Schedule 1 of Controlled Substances Act in USA. The voting carried out by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington, approved the new status of the plant last 20th of November.
The result, 24 against 10 votes, paved the way for the regulation bill to advance to the next stage, the vote in Congress, controlled by a Democrat majority. It will have to overcome its first real obstacle when it faces the Senate, ruled by a counterpart Republican majority led by Mitch McConnell. Mc Connell is identified by cannabis activists as the main prohibition defender in the US. After that, the bill would have to be ratified by president Trump. Consideration on all these factors casts some doubts on its ultimate approval.
The bill would allow the American states to bring forward their own policies regarding cannabis and it would incentivise the review of the criminal record of people having committed minor offences related to cannabis, its flowers and derivates. It also includes a tax over cannabis of 5% in all products, that would be destined to employment training and legal counselling for those communities that have been affected the most by the failure of War on Drugs. Communities would be chosen according to a traditional and anthropological relation and showing a certain spirit of reparation to these collectives in the face of the consolidation of this sector as another rich-white-controlled one.
In Illinois style, the new cannabis law responds to decades-old demands from the American Union for Civil Liberties. More than half of the yearly police arrests related to narcotics in the US are linked to marijuana. As the governor of Illinois said, the impact that antidrug laws had on afro-descendant communities was disproportionate and that is a matter of concern.
“Criminalising marijuana was a mistake. (…) The racial disparity in the enforcement of the laws only made this mistake worse with terrible consequences, particularly for minority communities”, exposed the president of the Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerrold Nadler.
USA, country of prohibition
The policies carried out by the USA for decades have caused an ocean of injustice around the globe, an ocean where all, from big drug traffickers to small producers and consumers, have been drowning. From the 70s decade, when Nixon launched the first attempts at prohibition, they evolved into the extensions made by Reagan in the 1980s, which last until today. In the USA, a huge change in the public view of cannabis is taking place nowadays.
Eleven American states plus the Columbia district have legalised Cannabis for recreational use so far. Medical marijuana, prescribed by doctors, is legal in 33 states.
Young politicians are moving forward in regulation matters, making it possible that the matter is laid on the table for serious discussion. An advance that could be regarded as tiny is actually a much more committed position than the one shown in many places like, for instance, Spain.
“I don’t care, it’s fine by me. You are not hurting anybody… I think that people tend to avoid this, but all we need to do is accept that there is nothing inherent to marijuana that is more harmful than, let’s say, legal substances such as alcohol. Lots of people drink alcohol, What’s the difference?”, asked last June congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one amongst the new voices of American politics that defend regulation. “I am glad we are moving towards a fairer stance as a party and that we are not only moving towards legalising marijuana but also towards compensation for the damage caused by the War on Drugs and the unjust imprisonment of so many people”.
Along the way other proposals have been left aside like the MORE law which designed a scenario akin to the one sought now.
The bill approved by the Judiciary Committee has got another side that worries activists. Big multinational companies have already set eyes on the cannabis market’s economic potential. Pharmaceutical, cosmetics, health and food corporations are already pressuring governments for a cannabis regulation that would land them the best licences, if not the only ones. Especially in a country like the USA, where the activity of lobbies is allowed and accepted as normal.
The passing of the SAFE law, days before, will ensure that the national legal cannabis companies and their employees have access to the same basic bank and financial services as other legal industries. It will allow the cannabis industry to gain access to banking service, reducing its dependency on cash and notably improving security for the companies. Furthermore, “transparency will increase and police will be helped in dissuading and detecting illegal operations”, as Neal Levine, CEO of the Federation of Cannabis Commerce, a notorious pro-legalisation lobby, explained to Forbes magazine.
Under a Democrat majority, the project could still be implemented. This makes companies such as Canophy Grow drool. The day after approving the new legislation in the House, the world index of cannabis stocks (CFD) soared more than 8% pushed by the risings of more than 15% experienced by the companies in this field, as aforementioned Canophy Grow Corp.
Let’s not forget that the industrial sector of cannabis has a capitalisation of over 80.000 million dollars and more than 200 public quoted companies sharing on this cannabis cake.