Looking back on the many 2021 Cannabis Reform Victories

With various states having legalized cannabis this year—in addition to some light congressional advancement—reform advocates put some victories on the map this year. A congressional memorandum is providing guidance in the form of priorities to piggyback upon those wins for the next year.

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), tenured cannabis reform exponents, published the memorandum on behalf of the United States Congressional Cannabis Caucus that the two representatives co-chair. It details the various pieces of cannabis legislation filed on Capitol Hill during the 2021 legislative session, including some that did make it through, and continues on to explain what to watch for in 2022.

While the legislators’ notes—which was shared explicitly with a popular cannabis news website ahead of its debut—emphasize traction that has materialized behind cannabis reform in the House of Representatives this year, it also points out that the U.S. Senate, nonetheless, has a bulk of work straight ahead.

Meanwhile, notably, the most important cannabis reform acts of 2021 did not happen in Congress. Rather, as the report emphasizes, it was the record number of states that legalized cannabis. Another notable victory for cannabis is Alabama legalizing medicinal cannabis.

‘This growing bipartisan traction for cannabis reform demonstrates Congress is ready [for progress on cannabis reform] in 2022, and we are nearer than ever to bringing our cannabis guidelines and measure in line with the American populace,’ the memo summarizes. 

‘While there is still a bulk of work that remains to be done, there have been great advancements over the course of [2021] that have laid the foundation for further action [on cannabis reform.]’

Lee summarily expressed in a press statement that “it is [high] time for the national government to catch up to the rest of the nation and begin directly leading cannabis reform.’

‘It’s been time for Congress to get [cannabis reform] across the finish line,’ she expressed. “Ending the failed war on drugs is a matter of racial equity and an ethical imperative.’

Blumenauer stated, ‘the table is set, and now is the time for complete cannabis reform, which will make a massive difference for people around the nation.’

‘We’ve watched [cannabis legalization] gain a litany of traction than ever before among the American people; nearly 71 percent of whom, including a plurality of Republicans, want to see federal [cannabis reform],’ he conveyed. Let’s get [cannabis reform] done.’

Blumenauer will also be leading a briefing with journalists on the following steps for cannabis reform today.

A measure to nationally legalize cannabis and encourage social equity cleared the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Legislation to protect banks that work directly with state-legal cannabis enterprises passed the House of Representatives for the fifth time. Yes. Fifth time. A bipartisan bill made its debut to incentivize the sealing of prior low-level cannabis offenses. Moreover, legislators kept the heat on President Joe Biden to grant clemency to those with minute cannabis convictions.

Unfortunately for cannabis reform advocates, none of those measures have been enacted. Moreover, the president has yet to enact upon their cries for executive clemency concerning cannabis convictions. Nevertheless, the memorandum stresses that this traction serves as the base for cannabis reform heading into the next legislative session.

The memorandum also notes another significant victory on cannabis reform: the obliterating of a spending measure rider banning Washington, D.C. from using its provincial tax dollars to enforce a cannabis market. Despite this, the latest version of the bill has not yet been passed, and the curtain to approval remains heavy for now. Nevertheless, this is likely to pave the avenues for implementation lawmaking to bring retail cannabis sales to the surface in the country capital.

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