December 20, 2020
By Dana Rohrabacher, former U.S. Congressman and PharmaCielo Advisor
Here at home-base USA and throughout the world, major changes in the status of cannabis can be expected in the year ahead. After decades of senseless debate and destructive enforcement, there is now a common understanding of the downside of marijuana prohibition. This accepted truth has now reached a turning point, which will sweep away longstanding political hurdles and convince Congress to pass substantive legislation that will be signed into law by the president.
Whoever is sitting in the Oval Office, such reform will require cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of our government. Progress based on this new perception of cannabis has already been made in the last two years—although, of course, far more should have come through the legislative maze and been passed into law.
Legislation that was passed and signed into law included an agriculture bill that basically legalized hemp. This bill made CBD a legal commodity for the first time, a huge step forward. It will not only be a boon to the health of our people but it will create whole new industries based on the diverse commercial uses of the hemp plant in everything from building construction materials to fabric for new clothing. For decades, government do-gooders were so intent on protecting us from even a miniscule amount of marijuana (THC) that they ignored the impressive health-related benefits of CBD and missed (or ignored) the economic benefits, like jobs and paychecks, that would have been created for entrepreneurs, farmers, truck drivers, quality testers, machine makers etc.
Another cannabis bill introduced and voted on in the House was the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019. The MORE Act, as it is called, was authored by Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Kamala Harris. Had this revolutionary bill been enacted by the Senate as well as the House and signed into law, would have for all practical purposes legalized marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances list. The federal government then would no longer consider marijuana illegal and would expunge the records of those convicted of breaking the law before the legal status changed.
The MORE ACT went to the floor of the House of Representatives on December 4th and passed by a vote of 228-164. The bill is not likely to become law, however. Why? Because Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that certain elements of the bill were unacceptable to him and his party. Not heeding the opposition and with no willingness on either side to compromise, the bill is now dead.
Specifically, the Democrats insisted on including a 5% tax on the cannabis industry, the revenue from which would be distributed as reparations for the suffering caused by enforcement of drug laws in minority communities. The Republicans saw this as yet another Democrat vote-buying scheme. Hopefully in the next session of Congress legislation mirroring much of the MORE Act will pass both houses and be signed into law. Success will depend on bipartisan compromises by supporters.
During the next session of Congress, which convenes January 3, House Democrats like Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. John Yarmuth will be working with House Republicans like Rep. Tom Massie and Rep. Tom McClintock to pass cannabis reform legislation that will progress all the way into law.
As the U.S. government finally gets its act together, the cannabis industry must do its part to maintain a level of trust with the public. PharmaCielo, like all cannabis companies, will be under scrutiny to demonstrate they are competently managed, that their products are beneficial, and that they deserve to be treated like any other enterprise.
The cannabis industry, like the other agricultural enterprises, includes everything from planting/harvesting, to processing/manufacturing to distribution and sales. This new industry, unlike other newcomers, has an image challenge. The industry is not, as it is often portrayed, gangster turf, and its product has an exciting array of health-related uses and applications. Nevertheless, the image created by Cheech and Chong, gangster movies and psychedelic music hangs on and just won’t go away.
The emerging cannabis industry, then, must impact both government policy and public perception. PharmaCielo, for example, has gone to great lengths to overcome the negative past image of its operational location, Colombia. In fact, PharmaCielo has been a leading force in emasculating the negatives. The opportunity for honest jobs with an honest company growing and selling an honest product in the country has had a positive impact that bad guys could not withstand. As for the product, with a strident commitment to purity and high quality, PharmaCielo has set a standard that other companies, including in other countries, must reach in order to compete.
With the many health and economic benefits, marijuana will continue – with the help of Congress – to evolve into a positive force in our country and in the world.
And cannabis reform is a global phenomenon. The cannabis business in Mexico, for example, is being legalized. Within a short time legitimate business enterprise will replace the brutality and unaccountability of criminal gangs. What has previously had a negative impact will become a source of revenue and honest employment. Canada, which is PharmaCielo’s corporate home, has served as a safe harbor for legitimate cannabis businesses and is now expanding beyond its role as banker/financier on a global level.
In Europe the pendulum is swinging in the same direction. Clearly, however, America must lead the way or be left out of a market that will have a massive impact on our overall global economy. After Prohibition ended in 1933, some Americans remained hesitant about opening up the U.S. to the production and sale of alcohol. Yes, alcohol has its downside, but since legalized it has been a respected and vibrant part of our economy and the American way of life. Looking forward, major changes will be made in the legal status of a new and economically enriching cannabis industry next year. It will be fun to watch.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 2019. A Republican, he represented California’s 48th congressional district for his last three terms. He has long been a stalwart supporter of cannabis legalization, speaking publically in support of both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization since 2013, based on his core conservative values and staunch support for states’ rights. As a long-time advisor to PharmaCielo, Rep. Rohrabacher shares his experienced insider perspective on the evolving U.S. cannabis legislation environment.