The issue of marijuana reform, even when it comes to those temporary amendments used to protect the legal cannabis industry from federal drug enforcers, is not expected to receive any votes next year in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a report from Marijuana.com.
It seems Republican leadership fully intends to keep with its current modus operandi by preventing cannabis-related amendments from even being discussed on the House floor in 2017. This is mostly due to House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions believing that these amendments are “poison pills” that stand to “imperil passage of the final bill.”
This spells real trouble in the grand scheme of the legal cannabis market, considering that all of the important federal marijuana protections that have been implemented over the past couple of years have been done through the passage of riders tucked into spending bills.
But why did Capitol Hill all of sudden get so cold in respect to modest marijuana appropriations bills?
Well, it seems a number of other controversial battles in the halls of Congress have prompted federal gatekeepers to completely close off consideration for pot-related discussions.
“Congressional leadership has taken up spending bills under relatively open rules whereby almost any amendment could be debated and voted on, as long as it was germane to the overall legislation,” writes Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority. “But due to unrelated disputes over gay rights, gun policy and the right of transgender people to access public bathrooms, House Republicans began locking down the amendment process earlier this year so that only certain approved amendments can come to the floor.”
For now, it is likely that the highly publicized Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prevents the DEA from harassing law-abiding members of the cannabis community, will be renewed for additional budgets. But Republican leadership’s new approach to the democratic process almost guarantees that no additional measures, including those pertaining to cannabis banking, will see the light of day.
“Until now, it was not known that there is in effect a blanket ban on measures concerning cannabis policy,” Angell wrote.
It seems the only way for a marijuana amendment to be considered next year by the House is for the Senate to pass one—putting it in the hands of a conference committee to determine whether it remains in play. But this is not exactly an option that is worth putting ones faith in, especially since it was one of these committees that quietly cut the throat of a well-received marijuana amendment, earlier this year.
All in all, there is a great deal of uncertainty right now with respect to the marijuana legalization movement. And even while the outcome of the past election gave advocates hope that the United States had finally reached a “turning point,” the threat of the Trump administration putting an end to the legal cannabis industry with Senator Jeff Sessions at the wheel as U.S. Attorney General should be enough to humble the arrogance of this progress.
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