If you listen carefully, you will hear the sound of a crooked foundation known as marijuana prohibition starting to crumble in the United States. It has been more than eight decades since the federal government outlawed the cannabis plant nationwide, and yet, here we are finally standing on its lawn with torches in hand waiting for a day of reckoning.
Because no matter how much the suits on the Hill have schemed to enslave a population through backasswards drug laws, the nation has risen up in true knock-down-drag-out fashion and fought for its freedom back. Admittedly, this battle for legal bud took a lot longer than it should have, but considering that everyone in the trenches was stoned beyond belief, the marijuana movement seems to be arriving right on time.
Although pro-pot groups insist that 2019 has been the best year ever in the realm of cannabis reform, the reality is not much progress has transpired. It is only revered as the “best year” because even less occurred in the years that came before it. But no matter how you size it up, nothing plus bupkis still equals squat. In spite of everything, marijuana remains illegal across most of the United States.
At the state level, many advocates predicted that New York and New Jersey would be the next to legalize weed. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, Illinois swooped in and legalized first, making both states look like dorks. But aside from that, no other significant pot laws were passed at the state level in 2019. We also learned that police are still out there arresting more than 600,000 pot offenders nationwide every year — mostly small-timers, too.
In addition, some states, like California, are having trouble curbing the black market, and tainted pot products, most of which were initially believed to be counterfeits, are finding their way into legal dispensaries. To make matters worse, the cannabis industry, as a whole, is struggling to keep it together long enough to see profitability. Layoffs are prevalent and some of the nation’s most popular cannabis magazines are at risk of going under.
There’s just no possible way that 2019 should be considered a banner year for cannabis.
Federally speaking, parts of Congress dilly-dallied around with the notion of forging some kind of change in the realm of national cannabis reform, but the powers against it are still too strong to penetrate. Rumor has it that the cannabis trade’s legislative pride and joy are known as the SAFE Act is presently being gnawed on by rats in the basement of the Senate chamber. Its last words were reported, “Y’all know I’m not really a marijuana bill, right?” And the MORE Act, the proposal that got everyone to stop giving two-flying squirts about SAFE, well, that sucker has already been buried out behind the Capitol building alongside last year’s great green hope, the STATES Act. Remember that one? No? Don’t feel bad, no one does. No one cares. The point is that cannabis hopefuls have spent all year yapping about legislation that doesn’t have what it takes to go the distance.
But the stakes are about to change in 2020, which could set the nation up for legal weed the following year. There’s only one catch. Americans – 66 percent of which are on board with legalizing the leaf the same as beer and tobacco – have to vote in the next election. And for the right people.
The first thing all cannabis hopefuls need to come to grips with is that the SAFE Act and the MORE Act are dead. No, that’s not official or anything. There hasn’t been a press release issued saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican-dominated Senate are refusing to entertain these bills before year’s end. But trust me on this one – SAFE and MORE are finished.
They could, however, be resurrected in 2020. But for either of them to get any further attention, the legislative process would have to start from the very beginning. And unless the Republicans in the Senate have a change of heart in the next few months, the prospect of getting these bills or any others aimed at legalizing weed nationwide isn’t going much further next year than they did in 2019. Remember, as of January, Congress is still playing with the same losing team.
It is the November election when all the magic could happen. It’s a time when the stoner stars could align and contribute to getting America high again. But that all depends on the nation’s political loyalty when it comes time to vote. There are several Senate seats up for grabs. It is conceivable that the Democrats could win these seats and take control over the Senate. If that happens, McConnell, the man presently standing in the way of cannabis reform in the U.S, would be dethroned as Senate Majority Leader. That’s when the cannabis debate could really find its footing in both chambers. Because there would no longer be anyone on the Hill that cares enough to try to stop it. And anyone who did oppose would surely be outvoiced by Democratic rule.
Furthermore, a Democratic president (except for Joe Biden ) would undoubtedly support most cannabis legislation, and there is even a solid chance that President Trump would sign off on it if he wins a second term. Unless, of course, Trump decides to make a statement by stamping it with a veto just to prevent the Democrats (the same ones trying to have him impeached) from making any progress. Grudges tend to have an extremely long shelf life when it comes to politics.
But here’s the deal.
If both Trump and the Democrats find success in the next election, the best-case scenario for getting marijuana legalization done at the federal level in 2021 is for Trump to make it his idea and let the Democrats follow suit. Because Trump’s grudge over all of this impeachment business could be enough to keep it from happening. However, if the U.S. experiences an election year where the Democrats take over — nabbing both the Senate and the Presidency – federal marijuana legalization could be as good as done.
Will it all shake out accordingly? Meh, who knows? It just depends on whether the majority of the population remembers that they like marijuana when they head to the polls next year.