Any day now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, will unveil draft cannabis reform legislation. And, for the first time in history, as Cannabis Wire recently explored in-depth, legislation to end the federal criminalization of cannabis stands a chance of passage in Congress.
In tandem, advocates and businesses are quickly getting organized. The latest effort on this front is the launch today of the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), a coalition of dozens of the highest-valued cannabis companies in North America, as well as several trade and advocacy groups.
“USCC is a unified voice advocating for the descheduling and legalization of cannabis,” said Steven Hawkins, the coalition’s interim CEO, and the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “Legalization at both the state and federal level must include provisions ensuring social equity and redress for harms caused to communities impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
In recent years, the number of groups advocating for cannabis reform has multiplied. This is due in part to newer groups that are dedicated solely to cannabis issues (like the Cannabis Trade Federation), and in part to longstanding groups that have become more involved with the issue over time (like Human Rights Watch). And, the list of groups today ranges from those focused on justice, like the American Civil Liberties Union, to those focused on industry priorities, like the American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp.
The U.S. Cannabis Council is an effort to consolidate some of these dozens of voices. Another coalition launched in 2018 called the Marijuana Justice Coalition, which aims to “advocate for federal marijuana reform through a racial and economic justice lens.” For this coalition, the Drug Policy Alliance brought cannabis-focused groups like National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) together with those like ACLU and HRW, mentioned above, as well as others like Immigrant Legal Resource Center and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
How these coalitions’ priorities overlap or differ remains to be seen. But this will likely become clear once Schumer, Booker, and Wyden’s federal cannabis reform legislation draft is released for public comment. In years past, as Cannabis Wire recently reported, disagreement arose over whether the SAFE Banking Act, a cannabis banking bill, should have received a vote in the US House ahead of the MORE Act, a bill to deschedule cannabis and end its federal criminalization.
“As founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I’ve seen firsthand that our most successful cannabis wins have been secured by a team,” US Representative Earl Blumenauer said in a statement. “That’s why I am glad to see this first-of-its-kind alliance. We have a unique opportunity in the 117th Congress to advance cannabis reform, but we must remain united to create the change we know is possible.”
The coalition’s list of founding members includes organizations and businesses that have spent the most on cannabis-related federal lobbying in recent years, according to Cannabis Wire’s previous reporting.
U.S. Cannabis Council founding members:
American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp
Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine
Cannabis Trade Federation
Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce
Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project
Marijuana Policy Project
Veterans Cannabis Project
Canopy Growth Corporation
Columbia Care Inc.
Cresco Labs Inc.
The Grove Cannabis Dispensary
iAnthus Capital Holdings, Inc.
LivWell Enlightened Health
Native Roots Cannabis Co.
1906 New Highs
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
Vicente Sederberg LLP
Marijuana Justice Coalition members:
American Civil Liberties Union
Center for American Progress
The Center for Law and Social Policy
Human Rights Watch
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
National Association of Social Workers
The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
Veterans Cannabis Coalition