Here it is, folks — the prospect of a U. S. House vote on legalizing cannabis. That translates to decriminalization at the Federal level and removal from Schedule 1. It’s expected to stall in the Senate.
The bill is titled the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Originally scheduled for the 21st of September, it was postponed ’til after the presidential election is decided (hopefully that won’t take too long). Advocates for legalizing pot are enthused, in spite of the obstacles that remain.
It does seem kind of silly to be worrying about cannabis in the middle of a pandemic, but it’s a reasonably popular issue and well, there’s mucho dolares at stake. States are eager to access some of that tax revenue from cannabis products. After all, there’s a recession (or worse) on the way, and governments are already scrambling to make up budget shortfalls.
I understand that politically, Democrats want to focus on the pandemic response, and Republicans on just about anything else. Okay, except perhaps Russian interference in US elections. Still, any move towards widespread legalization will have an impact. It’s our task to figure out what that impact will be, and how much it will change society.
I understand that for most of a century now, the two camps, pro and con, have become partisan to a point where I can’t imagine a genuine resolution. The debate, or perhaps argument is a better term, will continue.
Ultimately, the decision will be made by people in positions of authority who for the most part have little experience with the realities of cannabis use, its benefits and risks, and perhaps don’t care all that much. They have other things on their mind. Any discussion among lawmakers will probably center on tax revenue. That’s what happened around alcohol, which is usually held up as a model of successful control — a conclusion that on closer examination seems a lot less self-evident.
Our society has learned to live with a remarkable number of consequences related to drinking, so people can get beer, wine, or liquor when they want it. And as with alcohol, we’ll be asked to pretend that age restrictions are enough to prevent widespread use by underage kids.
It never is. Maybe we can skip that part. There’s enough BS floating around already.
So what comes now? Congress will be back after the election, as a lame duck. Representatives from California and Oregon have already vowed a vote before the year ends. That’s likely as far as it will go, this round at least. Its sponsors insist that it’s still a breakthrough for the prospects of eventual legalization.
I’m no political expert so don’t ask me why they feel the need to set and break these seemingly arbritrary deadlines. Why not wait for a possibly friendlier Congress? At this point it feels like an exercise in futility.
Truth is, with the GOP in control of the Senate, it has about as much chance of passing as the Trump impeachment. And we know how that turned out.
By the way, here’s something from SAMHSA on treating cannabis disorders. Best be prepared: