New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively meaning state-legal cannabis businesses would not have to fear federal interference and could gain normal access to banking services.
The Marijuana Justice Act, first introduced by Booker and Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, in 2017, is being supported by presidential candidates including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. All are Democrats except for Sanders, who is an Independent.
But it remains to be seen how the measure will fare this year.
Industry officials are bullish about the prospects of federal reform, but experts say any reform package likely would need Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s support.
“Senator McConnell is a key gatekeeper for Senate votes and passage, and I have no reason to think he wants to see any significant reforms enacted in the coming year, especially after he got hemp reforms passed late last year,” Douglas Berman, director of Ohio State University’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, told Marijuana Business Daily.
A number of marijuana bills are being reintroduced in the House and the Senate that would call for comprehensive reforms or that would resolve specific issues such as access to banking and fair taxation.
The Cannabis Trade Federation has beefed up its lobbying efforts to try to get the so-called States Act passed. That measure would allow states to determine their own cannabis policies with full federal protections.