HighBridge is proud of its affiliation with the Cannabis Trade Federation. On July 10 CTF was a featured participant in a Congressional Hearing examining Cannabis Laws in the US. The following is a summary of what took place.
Yesterday, Cannabis Trade Federation’s CEO Neal Levine represented the cannabis industry during the first-ever congressional hearing examining cannabis in the context of ending prohibition: “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform.” Below you’ll find my quick takeaways, as well as additional resources for those who would like to take a deeper dive.
- Lawmakers from both parties and all witnesses agreed that the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws is untenable and must be addressed. Participants emphasized the detrimental impact on communities of color and on Americans working in state-legal cannabis jobs.
- Consensus on the need for reform allowed the discussion to move quickly into a conversation around ideal implementation strategy. This allowed participants to home in on core issues, including restorative justice, social equity priorities, and how to protect the approximately 200,000 Americans employed in the state-legal cannabis industry.
- Witnesses and members agreed that the STATES Act is a valuable first step. With strong bipartisan support for legislation like the STATES Act, it is possible during the current session of Congress to take major steps toward respecting state cannabis laws, protecting workers, and advancing a more secure, vibrant, and equitable cannabis industry.
- There was disagreement over whether to move the STATES Act or push for a more far-reaching measure. While CTF is supportive of nearly all legislative proposals to scale back federal prohibition, we are focused on securing as much reform as possible during the current session of Congress. We do not want to lose the opportunity to pass the STATES Act — which would make it easier for states and localities to implement social equity programs, as Neal pointed out in his testimony — in favor of legislation that cannot pass the Senate (and may not even receive majority support in the House).
Why It Matters
The hearing allowed critical voices to speak directly to Congress, including Neal, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and Dr. Malik Burnett of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who also serves as COO of Tribe Companies, LLC. It provided a stage to share the data and professional acumen needed to advance the discussion around long-overdue cannabis reform in America.
Voicing Bipartisan Support
The hearing was also an opportunity for lawmakers from bother parties to voice their support for cannabis reform. Acting Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom McClintock (R- CA) stated that marijuana decriminalization “may be one of the very few issues upon which bipartisan agreement can still be reached in this session.” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) added, “In my view, applying criminal penalties, with their attendant collateral consequences for marijuana offenses is unjust and harmful to our society… An examination of our marijuana laws and potential reforms is long overdue.”