Dem-led Senate could ignite cannabis reform efforts, say industry experts

Dem-led Senate could ignite cannabis reform efforts, say industry experts

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Democrats recently celebrated a victory that granted the political party majority control of the U.S. Senate. A situation like this hasn’t occurred since 2010.

With fresh polls showing that Democratic support for cannabis is surpassing Republican support, it’s likely that the Dem-dominated Senate could carve wonderful things into the legal cannabis landscape. 

But just how much of an influence will Democratic leadership have on the U.S. cannabis reform outlook? Experts believe that the industry is about to experience a monumental paradigm shift. Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, agrees with this.

Strekal told Forbes that since numerous senators, including Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rob Wyden (D-OR), “have already pledged publicly to debate and advance legislation to end federal [cannabis] prohibition via descheduling,” cannabis reform efforts are sure to materialize in the near future. 

In particular, Strekal noted that he feels Senator Chuck Schumer’s rise to Majority Leader will strengthen the industry at large, what with the New York-based lawmaker maintaining a strong vocal stance in favor of widespread legislation. 

U.S. cannabis reform bills are gaining momentum in the House

Coinciding with the Republican Senate leadership departure was the demise of some notable bills for cannabis reform. They include the MORE Act, which aimed to decriminalize the plant, and the SAFE Banking Act, which would have enabled financial institutions and banks to collaborate with cannabis companies penalty-free.

Both bills struggled to gain Senate support after gaining approval in the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, new control in the Senate could turn things in a new direction. According to Charles Gormally, the co-chair of New Jersey-based cannabis law practice Brach Eichler, LLC, this leadership change will likely spark debate on the subject of cannabis conviction expungement, decriminalization and reform.

The change of control in the United States Senate has created the possibility that the long-overdue rescheduling of cannabis may have a puncher’s chance of passing. While cannabis liberalization polls as a bipartisan issue, Republican control of the Senate has been where reasonable proposals go to die,” he said, adding that, rescheduling of cannabis could also open up interstate marketplaces and inject the kind of efficiency of a marketplace that is sorely lacking now.”

Industry experts intend on continuing their advocacy efforts for U.S. cannabis reform 

Gormally’s opinion was shared by another industry professional named Michael King. He is the co-founder and CEO of a California-headquartered cannabis cultivation, processing and manufacturing facility called Kings Garden. Upon hearing news of the Democrat-controlled Senate, King told reporters that he thinks the chances of legalization in the U.S. are now much higher.

Despite his optimistic outlook, King went on to say that “any major legislation would need 60 votes in the upper chamber to avoid a filibuster.” Notwithstanding the mission ahead, he says that his company will keep trying to push things in the right direction.

We will continue to advocate for licensed cannabis businesses to have access to banks and the U.S. stock market — opportunities that are dependent on federal lawmakers taking action to make cannabis legal on a national level,” said King.

King’s team aren’t the only ones pushing for cannabis reform in the U.S. Advocacy groups like American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, Marijuana Policy Project and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are steering campaigns to promote the plant and its widespread benefits for the legal market.