Cannabis-friendly legislation such as the SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act continue to meander against approval by the US government but have been partially overridden by more pressing political issues, the speakers said on Wednesday at the Business Insurance Cannabis Conference online.
Michael Correia, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said that with insane negotiations now focused on the immediate crisis to raise the debt ceiling, lawmakers' ability to tackle cannabis reform is declining, simply due to lack of time. Congress is also strongly focused on multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure legislation, he said.
Nevertheless, he notes that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 201
Specifically, the MORE Act removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for a person who manufactures, distributes or possesses marijuana. The bill also makes other changes, including things like replacing statutory references to marijuana and cannabis.
Michelle Rutter Friberg, Deputy Head of Government Relations for NCIA, says that the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of the Marijuana Act, CLAIM Act, has been reintroduced in the US Senate by Senator Robert Menendez, DN.J., but has recently seen some activity or movement.
The CLAIM Act "generally provides a safe haven from penalties or other adverse actions by insurance companies providing services to cannabis-related companies in jurisdictions where such activities are lawful," according to the text of Congress.gov.
Mr. Correia also noted that the progress of the cannabis reform has been hampered by the imminent closure of lobbying in general in Washington DC due to pandemic shutdowns.
While accession allowed for continued efforts, Correia said he could not attend the congressional office to present a case was a disadvantage, especially since the change in administration brought about countless changes among congressional staff, who usually receive lobbyists such as NCIA.
Next year, panelists agreed that the mid-2022 election will be at the center of the US political scene and possibly continue some of the challenges of pushing cannabis higher on the legislative agenda.