Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said in the past that he has absolutely no intention of legalizing marijuana.
The cannabis community rejoiced last month on the heels of news that Congress would, for the first time in American history, take a vote on a bill that would legalize marijuana at the national level.
The measure supposedly inching us closer to a time when weed is legal for everyone in the U.S. is called the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (MORE). The goal of the measure is to eliminate the cannabis plant from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge the criminal records of petty pot offenders and invest tax dollars into repairing the communities most ravaged by the drug war shenanigans of yesteryear. And while the bill passed a key House committee with ease, setting it up to be discussed before the full House, it is doomed to fail, and quite miserably, mind you, regardless of what happens from here.
Cannabis advocacy groups gunning for legal weed across the nation have all but suggested that the MORE Act is the best thing to happen to the movement since the SAFE Act. Wait, what happened with that bill anyway? These people want the country to believe that Congress is finally stepping up on the cannabis issue and essentially champing at the bit to make sure that every man, woman and child (ok, maybe not the kids) has access to marijuana without getting persecuted by the police.
But the thing is, the majority of Congress isn’t yet interested in ending prohibition. Whatever hope that pot-loving Americans may have had for a greener tomorrow, well, they’re just going to have to wait a little longer. This isn’t going to be their year.
What cannabis advocates failed to divulge after the MORE Act found approval by the House Judiciary Committee is that while it may get some floor time in front of the full House — hell, it may even pass with flying colors — the measure is going to end up getting shredded, torched and perhaps also forced to endure many unspeakable, cruel acts before it is buried in the backyard of the U.S. capitol so that Republicans can dance on its grave.
The Senate has absolutely no intention of giving this bill the time of day. How do we know? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the gatekeeper to getting these types of measures the necessary floor time, has said in the past that he has absolutely no intention of legalizing marijuana. The most he was willing to go is legal hemp, which he did last year when he made industrial hemp production part of a larger Farm Bill. But as for marijuana, “It is a different plant, which I choose not to embrace,” he said.
For all of you thinking, never say never, McConnell may surprise us all in the 11th hour, let me be clear on exactly why that’s not going to happen. How quickly we have forgotten the SAFE Act. Wait, there’s that name again. This measure was simply designed to give banks the freedom to do business with the cannabis industry without risking prosecution at the hands of the federal government. It would not legalize marijuana, it wouldn’t change any of the pot laws at all. It would only prevent banks from getting into trouble for money laundering, which in turn would give marijuana businesses access to bank accounts. The measure passed the full House a couple of months ago, and the Senate still hasn’t given it any consideration. Sadly, chances are the SAFE Act is dead in the water.
So, if McConnell isn’t even willing to entertain a simple banking bill for the cannabis trade, why on Earth would he all of a sudden stand up in support of a measure that would tear down the walls of pot prohibition nationwide? He wouldn’t. And even if it did get a vote, which it won’t, the Democrats would never be able to keep it from being devoured by the jowls of Republican domination.
Don’t believe the hype. The MORE Act, while an admirable attempt at legalizing marijuana in America, will not be going the distance in 2019. The bill probably won’t even receive a fair shot in the next session.
The best chance the U.S. has at any significant change concerning the national pot laws will depend on the outcome of the 2020 election. McConnell and several other Senate Republicans stand to be voted out. Therefore, as long as the Democrats can find a way to gain control of the Senate, the country will be in decent shape on the issue of marijuana reform. Of course, it is always possible that the Republicans could use marijuana legalization next year as a sneaky attempt to win over the voters. But that doesn’t appear to be the plan just yet.
For now, it’s still business as usual in D.C.