Thursday, July 11, 2019
Yesterday was an interesting and perhaps historic day inside the Beltway as the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Committee of the Judiciary of US House of Representatives conducted a hearing titled "Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform." The full two-hour+ hearing, along with the written testimony submitted by the official witnesses, can all be found at this official webpage. If one is looking for a summary, this High Times piece provides recap under the headline "What Was Said at Today’s Congressional Hearing on Federal Marijuana Law Reform." And the headline of this Marijuana Moment recap, headlined "Lawmakers And Witnesses Clash On Strategy During Congressional Hearing On Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition," highlights that there was considerable consensus on the problems with blanket federal marijuana prohibition, but considerable dissensus concerning how reform might best move forward.
I have been fairly pessimistic about federal marijuana reforms before 2020 primarily because, as I noted in this MJBiz Daily piece, I do not think Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has any interest in moving any significant reforms forward these days (especially after he got hemp reforms passed late last year). But this congressional hearing provides yet another reminder of why federal marijuana reform is likely to remain so very challenging in the months and years ahead. Even when there is broad agreement as to the need for reform, we still seem to be a very long way from agreement as to the best form of reform. And experiences over the last year in New Jersey and New York highlight that even a strong political will for reform among key official can still be thwarted by squabbles over which of various forms reform could take.
For this reason, as I wonder about what is next in Congress on this front, I remain inclined to say "probably nothing."
A few related recent prior posts:
- US House Subcommittee hearing scheduled on "Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform"
- On eve of congressional marijuana reform hearing, major policy groups form new Marijuana Justice Coalition
- New Jersey shows, yet again, the challenges of marijuana legalization done via the traditional legislative process
- Will the new, reintroduced version of the STATES Act be able to get even a hearing in Congress?
- Senator Cory Booker introduces "Marijuana Justice Act of 2019"