Jim McGovern (D-Mass), Chairman of the House of Representatives Rules Committee, said that when it comes to cannabis reform, common sense has not prevailed within the current political climate.
“This is what happens when you allow the world’s greatest deliberative body to actually deliberate and debate. That shouldn’t be a radical idea,” Rep. McGovern recently told attendees at a webinar.
The powerful Rules Committee was used by its previous chairman, Pete Sessions (R-Texas), as a means of blocking nearly all debate on cannabis.
Since assuming the chairmanship, McGovern noted that the House of Representatives debated more amendments on cannabis policy last year than in the previous 20 years.
“Not only that, we have also passed a landmark bill that my friend Congressman (Ed) Perlmutter in Colorado, initiated to allow cannabis related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to access the banking system,” McGovern said.
As keynote speaker at Advance 360 and NJ Cannabis Insider’s webinar on “Cannabis Reform 2020: America’s Growing Pains and Possibilities,” McGovern continued.
“But let’s be honest, these changes didn’t happen because you waited long enough. They happen because the American people get tired of waiting, and they demanded action. They wanted the government at all levels to tackle the problems they saw right out their front door.”
Forward motion on the issue has been consistently hampered by Republican control of the Senate. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader, has consistently been unwilling to consider marijuana legalization, though hemp – a potential cash crop in his home state of Kentucky – is a favorite of his.
Toi Hutchinson, former state senator and now senior advisor to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on cannabis control, said federal inaction continues to be one the biggest challenges for states looking to develop a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market.
“A lot of times people act like there’s passport control in between each state, the same thing with COVID,” Ms. Hutchinson said. “People move all over the place,” which hampers legal states trying to develop a well-regulated market.
Hutchinson added that without federal action, there’s no control. “At the end of the day, you cannot regulate that which you don’t control.”
Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for Marijuana Policy Project, said the pandemic has stalled legalization efforts this year.
“Next year, we’re optimistic that a lot of states that stalled out this year will pick it up and take this issue on and pass it,” O’Keefe said.