Canada’s Cannabis Legalization Saved; Medical Protected in the U.S. for Now
Yesterday we wrote to you about the long and ugly process of creating policy, and the indispensable role advocacy and activism play in making sure the law works for the people. (In the case of cannabis, prohibition sucks and it has taken many years to get this far!) Today, I am happy to report good news on two important political fronts in Canada and the United States.
First, yesterday brought some extreme last-minute concern that Canada’s upper house of parliament might not have the votes to move their cannabis bill, Bill C-45, forward, which would have effectively killed the law that is meant to implement adult-use legalization in the country by this summer.
The scare sent cannabis stocks tumbling in a downward slide, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party scrambled to get absent senators back to Ottawa to ensure the vote didn’t fail.
“Non-affiliated Alberta Sen. Grant Mitchell, the government’s liaison — who works as a whip without some of the same coercive powers normally afforded to a partisan caucus — and Independent Quebec Sen. Marc Gold, the liaison for the Independent Senators Group, were busy working the phones encouraging senators to show up in Ottawa Thursday.
“‘They are making a special effort to fly back here if they need to, so they can be here and vote according to how they believe the vote should go,’ Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, the leader of the Independent Senators Group, told reporters earlier Thursday.
“‘As soon as we heard that there was a possibility of a blocked vote on the part of the Conservatives and that there was the possibility that they, the Conservatives, might run the risk of defeating a bill at second reading — which would be extraordinary — we wanted to communicate that with our members so they could make their own decision about coming back and be part of this historic decision.'”
Second, in the United States activists breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday when an extremely important measure related to cannabis was passed through some back-end legislative channels.
Since 2014, licensed cannabis providers in states which have passed legal medical cannabis laws have enjoyed a nominal protection from Congress. The protection comes in the form of a rider on the federal spending bill, a bill which absolutely must be passed or renewed with regularity for the government to continue to do its basic functions. The rider prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to enforce federal cannabis laws against state-compliant medical cannabis businesses. Though favorability toward cannabis appears to be gaining steam among US House Representatives and Senators, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently pushed for Congress to end said policy.
Fortunately, Sessions did not win this one, although Donald Trump threatened he might veto the omnibus spending bill that included protections for regulated medical providers and patients, before he signed it. Unfortunately, the battle continues, as the spending bill will only last through September 30th, at which point another federal spending bill must be passed and another rider must overcome the hurdles of prohibitionists in power including Jeff Sessions and others.
If you want to be successful in cannabis, the best thing to do is get involved NOW with the communities making change. Stay informed on the latest in politics, tech, science and more at the International Cannabis Business Conference, happening next in Berlin, Germany, on April 11-13 followed by Vancouver, BC, Canada, on June 24-25 and Portland, Oregon, USA, on September 27-28. Get your tickets today!