US industry leader says infighting in the US House points to the difficulty in getting federal cannabis reform

Update: Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 6, 2023 at 4:01 PM and was updated on January 7, 2023 at 11:50 AM to reflect Kevin McCarthy’s victory as Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

For most of this week, the Republicans are in The US House of Representatives – which won a majority in the chamber in the November 2022 elections – is split over who will be elected to speaker. California Rep. Kevin McCarthy won his debate for the position after call 15 in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, after various party members cast votes for others, including Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Kevin Hearn, R-Okla, and Jim Jordan , ar ohio; Donald J. Trump is not representative; and “present”.

Rizwan Khan, JD, CEO and president of 501(c)6 cannabis trade organization The Global Hemp Trade Alliance (GACC), and chair of DNA Genetics, predicts that the stalemate between the parties in Washington, D.C., will cause difficulties in reforming cannabis at the 118th Congress.

Related: Global Hemp Trade Coalition Discusses Federal and State Policy Ahead of Congressional Hearing

Referring to the industry’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill as “our little island of cannabis,” though not for the lack of effort cannabis advocates say, “we’re becoming less and less important and less important on everyone’s radar.”

After electing a leader so he can caucus for the first time, the lower chamber of the 118th Congress can tackle a host of issues in the next two years that many Americans might expect of their leaders, including inflation and support for Ukraine in its defense against Russia. Invasion, to name a few.

“With such infighting, it is clear to us that this 118th Congress will be largely ineffective in many ways,” says Khan. “They’re really going to kick the can over a lot of their work and probably have a lot more infighting than not. So, even getting them to consider cannabis legislation is probably going to be more difficult.”

Cannabis advocates can introduce bills in the House of Representatives with the support of pro-cannabis House members on both sides of the political aisle. But, Khan says, “Whether or not we can get him more time than he needs to go through the process is a whole different story. So, I think this is going to have a huge impact on cannabis because it will probably put a damper on our efforts for the next couple of years.”

Several Republicans have previously led cannabis reform to the bottom chamber finish line. For example, four Republican representatives were original participants in the cannabis research bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in December 2022. (A total of 109 House Republicans voted in favor.) Additionally, five Republicans in the 116th Congress voted in favor. in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expansion (MORE) Act in 2020, including original sponsor Matt Gaetz, R-Fla; Three Republicans in the 117th Congress voted in favor of the More Act, including Gaetz, who was also a co-sponsor at the time.

When the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the House in July 2022, SAFE Banking was included, as 149 Republicans voted to pass it, including McCarthy but not Donalds, Hearn or Jordan. (Gates voted for Jordan as Speaker of the House this week and many Republicans have followed suit, despite Jordan’s decision to nominate McCarthy, not himself.) The Safe Security Council (SAFE) has passed the House six times before, twice as much as independent legislation and four times as many. Attached to other bills. He never passed the Senate.

So, how do House Representatives elected in November feel about cannabis? “They are all very new, we didn’t communicate with them and didn’t have time,” says Khan. “They haven’t been sworn in yet. They need a Speaker from the House to swear them all in.”

“So as we watch this circus fail, this also affects our ability to communicate and schedule meetings with their staff or try to measure them up to some of these things.”

Meanwhile, another problem with getting cannabis reform through Congress is that not all Democratic representatives agree on cannabis policy, Khan points out.

For example, when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DNY, announced the federal CAOA legislation bill with fellow Democrats in July 2021, he did not support SAFE Banking as a standalone bill in the 117th Congress, stating that there A more comprehensive bill is needed. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. Co-sponsor of the CAOA, citing the need for restorative justice for people with cannabis convictions and equal opportunity for people interested in obtaining cannabis licenses.

“I don’t know about other senators, but I’m going to set myself up to do everything I can to stop a soft banking bill that’s going to allow all of these companies to make a lot of money out of this, instead of focusing on the restorative justice aspects,” Booker said in July 2021.

After a CAOA died on the Senate Finance Committee, Schumer and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tried to add SAFE Banking to the final NDAA and the sweeping spending package must pass in the lame 117th congressional session. None of the efforts were successful.

Khan says a potential SAFE Banking bill is being called SAFE Plus can pass this Congress, adding, “It’s just a matter of Chuck Schumer coming along and supporting the independent SAFE Plus bill and not putting his own legislation in front of that, and we’ll have a chance.”

SAFE Plus will illustrate the need for cannabis conviction elimination, Small Business Administration loans and increased veteran access to medical cannabis, said Pablo Zanic, an analyst at financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Search for alpha.

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