New Democratic Majority In Senate Bodes Well For Cannabis Policy Reform

With the shift in political power, federal cannabis reform could have a real fighting chance.
New Democratic Majority In Senate Bodes Well For Cannabis Policy Reform

The Democratic sweep of the Georgia runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday is likely to give an energizing boost to efforts to legalize cannabis at the federal level, with both activists and investors indicating an optimistic outlook on the issue. Both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have been projected as the winners in their bids to unseat Republican incumbents Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Their victories, combined with the success of President-elect Joe Biden, wrest control of the Senate away from the Republican Party. With 50 senators from each party in the upper chamber of Congress, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote gives the Democrats control of the Senate and its leadership. The change effectively demotes Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to minority leader, greatly diminishing his power over legislation in the Senate.

Cannabis Advocates Hail Senate Victories

Cannabis policy reform advocacy group the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said in a press release on Wednesday that the shift in legislative power “paves the way for the potential approval of comprehensive marijuana law reform legislation in the 117th Congress.”

“Reform advocates have established over the past two years that we possess the votes in the House of Representatives to remove the cannabis plant from its Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act to end the failed and cruel policy of federal prohibition and criminalization,” said Justin Strekal, NORML political director. 

“Unfortunately, under the GOP Senate leadership, the MORE Act, the SAFE Banking Act, and many other important reform bills were dead on arrival,” Strekal continued. “By contrast, Democratic leaders in the Upper Chamber — including Senators Schumer, Wyden, Booker, Merkley, Smith, Sanders, and others — have already pledged publicly to debate and advance legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition via descheduling.”

With Democratic control of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the current minority leader, is likely to take over as Senate majority leader. 

“Senator Schumer’s ascension to Majority Leader will mark the first time in US history that the upper chamber is led by a Senator who is openly calling for cannabis legalization,” Strekal noted.

“We look forward to working with soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Schumer and future Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden to advance legislation with haste,” he concluded.

Pot Stocks See Gains After Georgia Results

Policy reform activists weren’t the only members of the cannabis community that have been encouraged by the success of Warnock and Ossoff in Georgia’s Senate runoff election. Shares in several publicly traded cannabis businesses posted strong gains in Wednesday’s trading in an indication of the industry’s outlook for the future. 

“Given Democrat President-elect Joe Biden will take office later this month, and the House remains controlled by the Democrats – a Democratic sweep could clear the way for more progressive cannabis legislation to be passed,” said Aaron Grey of Alliance Global Partners.

Stock prices for Canopy Growth, Tilray, Hexo Corporation, and Cronos Group all posted double-digit gains on Wednesday, far outpacing the day’s increases for all major market indexes.

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