You don’t have to be a very astute observer of American politics to know that we live in a time of great political divisions. There are very few things that Democrats and Republicans can agree on at the national level and the government just came off of a partial shutdown, and it wouldn’t surprise many if another shutdown was on the horizon.
While a few issues, like funding infrastructure programs, get touted as potential bipartisan legislation, there is much more talk than action at this point. Could cannabis policy reforms, and even ending federal prohibition altogether, be the type of legislation that can bring together Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell in 2019?
As the Cannabis Trade Federation’s Neal Levine recently told Leafly’s David Downs, who will both be speaking at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco tomorrow on February 8th, legalization may reach a tipping point this year with 10 legal states (and Washington, D.C.), 33 medical states, hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions in domestic economic impact and a strong majority of voters wanting to end prohibition, and supermajorities favoring federal noninterference and medical legalization. Downs who kicked off his interview playing devil’s advocate, challenging Levine on why legalization is around the corner when it has taken decades to get to our current status:
Levine: We have Canada up and roaring. We have Mexico about to set up legal markets. We got countries in South America, Europe, the Middle East, and now Asia all starting to opt out of prohibition. We are ceding what should be an American industry to international competition, and there’s no reason for it, outside of bad policy.
The states are now moving at lighting speed to opt out on their own. We have now reached that point and Congress must act. That’s why we’re focused on the federal level, and that’s why we’re so optimistic we can get this done.
And the reason we’re so optimistic, and we have bipartisan support, and the president said he’d sign [the STATES Act] into law—is because the polling is so over the top in favor. [Federal noninterference] is polling 10 points higher than legalization, and that’s the STATES Act — it’s polling in the mid ’70s, and that’s why I think we can get this done.
It is no coincidence that every single Democrat in the US Senate who is running for president or talking about running for president is putting their name on a cannabis bill.
Whether the federal government ends prohibition this year or not, it is easy to see that our state by state progress, in addition to international advancements, has led us to a point where Congress and the president will act on the issue sooner rather than later. I look forward to discussing “Cannabis and the Feds” with Neal Levine and other esteemed panelists, just after David Downs discusses California’s legalization program with Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, at the ICBC in San Francisco.