No one in Congress has worked harder than Rep. Earl Blumenauer to end cannabis prohibtion. Along with Rep. Barbara Lee, he co-chairs the the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, which released a memo, titled "Year in Review: Cannabis Reform on Capitol Hill," on Dec. 16.
Blumenauer hosted a Zoom call with the cannabis media to discuss activity in Congress as it related to cannabis and ending prohibition in 2021. He was quick to laud the legislative successes in states that passed adult-use legalization, like New York and Virginia.
The SAFE Banking Act, which was passed by the House in 2019, has become a political football with some Republicans and moderates pushing for a vote in the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he prefers a more comprehesive approach, such as the MORE Act (it passed the House in 2020) or his own bill, Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, that has yet to be filed.
The Drug Policy Alliance took a stance against adding a SAFE Banking amendment to a defense bill while the Minority Cannabis Business Assocation lobbied in favor (the amendment was removed from the bill).
Earl Blumenauer on Nancy Mace's States Reform Act: "That's not going anyplace in the House."
Here's what Blumenauer had to say about SAFE Banking, which would allow businesses to use banking services and customers to pay with credit cards instead of cash, if the Senate was to vote on it:
"This would be the most effective marker to gauge Republican support. Rather than holding it back, it will help start the conversation going and break the logjam. People would have to put their names on the line. This has to move forward. I'd prefer it go to the Senate floor. I will continue to make the case that it should move forward to show how broad that base of support is."
The conversation shifted to Rep. Nancy Mace's States Reform Act. It's a Republican approach to legalization that would allow states like her own, South Carolina, to opt out.
"That's not going anyplace in the House," Blumenauer noted, swatting it like a fly. "But I continue to encourage Nancy to advance her issue. I welcome her participation. Her bill will not be the vehicle."
Blumenauer believes bipartisan support is the only way to get anything done. He hyped conservative states like Oklahoma turning to medical marijuana and how adult-use passed by ballot initiative in South Dakota (the state's Supreme Court overruled that vote). But it's going to take serious negotiating and compromising in order to "break the logjam" on pot before the 2022 midterms.