Here’s a first: A Congressional hearing on federal cannabis law reform took place this month at the instigation of South Carolina’s Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace and her party – yes, the Grand Old Party was pushing this.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform, one of the most powerful panels in the House, heard testimony from seven witnesses on the benefits of cannabis decriminalization including the need to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, improving treatment options for veterans with PTSD and chronic pain, and allowing cannabis companies to access traditional banking services.
Appearing afterwards on Fox Business News (below), Rep. Mace emphasized just how much the public supports reform:
And I’ll tell you I represent a very Purple swing district in South Carolina. But my state overall is very conservative and very Red. The entire state of SC, if you were to poll its residents today, they support cannabis reforms . . . They really love medical cannabis and in my district, my swing district, it goes even further where the vast majority of residents support adult use.
The Fox host agreed the public’s on board, also noting there’s bipartisan Congressional support, prompting her to ask: So when will the federal government get on board with the will of the people,” and legalize cannabis?
Mace didn’t give a time frame but expressed optimism because Congress is increasingly open to it: “Well certainly this was a landmark hearing today on oversight . . . And to have Republicans and Democrats come together and have a very frank discussion about the problems but also about the solutions to cannabis reform . . . it’s great to show the country . . . this is an issue we can really come together on.”
But there’s a problem: Although we’re entering a precedent-setting moment with Congress coming together on cannabis reform there remains one notable holdout – the President.
In a revealing interview with NBC News earlier this year, Orlando attorney and Biden fundraiser John Morgan told us why he thinks the President won’t back reform: Because he’s “suffered unimaginable pain” over family members who’ve fallen prey to alcoholism and drug abuse, including his son Hunter Biden:
I talked to Joe about this personally, and he just won’t do it. Joe Biden doesn’t understand marijuana … Joe has so much drug abuse in his own family that in his mind it’s a no-go. The older you get, the less people understand what marijuana is all about. To them, it’s all the same – marijuana, heroin, LSD.
Which is understandable, but until Biden’s prepared to sign a bill legalizing cannabis he will let stand one of the most pernicious laws in modern American history. Richard Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act placed cannabis in Schedule 1 – the most dangerous drug category – along with heroin and fentanyl, and ahead of cocaine and opioids which were placed in Schedule 2.
Which even the Fox News host concedes is wrong: “Yeah, [we have to] stop burying [our] heads in the sand and equating marijuana with fentanyl because that is irresponsible.”