Lawmakers in Congress are starting to pick up the pace in their introduction of cannabis bills, and priorities are taking shape.
So far, more than a dozen bills have been introduced this session. Most are reintroductions of bills from previous sessions, and some high-profile reintroductions are still on the way, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity (CAO) Act.
Late last week, the most closely-watched and intensely-lobbied cannabis bill was reintroduced: the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. The bill, which has passed out of the House several times, came closer than ever to a Senate vote late last year, as Cannabis Wire reported. By the time the 11th hour push went off the rails, the negotiated package, called SAFE Banking Plus, included the HOPE Act and the GRAM Act, which would provide funding to states to pursue expungements of cannabis offenses, and would offer Second Amendment protections to legal cannabis consumers, respectively. Both have been reintroduced this session, and both are expected to be folded into a Plus package again, once the standalone SAFE Banking Act clears the Senate Banking Committee. In laying out this strategy last week, co-sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a statement that the “expanded ‘SAFE Banking Plus’ package will represent the largest-ever cannabis reform legislation with bipartisan support in Congress.”
This year, there are some legislative and regulatory curveballs in the mix, too, that have the attention of cannabis stakeholders.
One is the 2023 Farm Bill, which is the first new Farm Bill since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized all cannabis plants with .3% THC or less, defined as hemp. This far-ranging agriculture legislation has the potential to transform the hemp industry if lawmakers choose to redefine hemp to close loopholes that have allowed for the proliferation of hemp-derived products that can cause a high.
And the other is the cannabis scheduling review that President Joe Biden called for in October, to determine if cannabis should remain in Schedule I, which is the strictest possible category, reserved for substances with the highest misuse potential and no medical value. Cannabis has remained in this schedule for more than 50 years, and any change in its classification would be both historic and seismic for the existing industry that has taken shape from coast to coast.
In other words, much remains on the horizon for this Congress and administration. Meanwhile, here’s what’s in play:
“A bill to create protections for financial institutions that provide financial services to State-sanctioned marijuana businesses and service providers for such businesses, and for other purposes.”
“To create a safe harbor for insurers engaging in the business of insurance in connection with a cannabis-related legitimate business, and for other purposes.”
“To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a study and clinical trials on the effects of cannabis on certain health outcomes of veterans with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, and for other purposes.”
“To prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from denying a veteran benefits administered by the Secretary by reason of the veteran participating in a State-approved marijuana program, and for other purposes.”
“To authorize Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in State marijuana programs.”
“A bill to allow veterans to use, possess, or transport medical marijuana and to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of Veterans Affairs as authorized by a State or Indian Tribe, and for other purposes.”
“To establish a Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis to study a prompt and plausible pathway to the Federal regulation of cannabis, and for other purposes.”
“To authorize the Attorney General to make grants to States and units of local government to reduce the financial and administrative burden of expunging convictions for cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”
“To provide for the rescheduling of marijuana into schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.”
“To protect the Second Amendment rights of adults whose use of marijuana is permitted by State or Tribal law.”
“To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law.”
“To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to the sale, purchase, shipment, receipt, or possession of a firearm or ammunition by a user of medical marijuana, and for other purposes.”
“To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to exempt industrial hemp from certain requirements under the hemp production program, and for other purposes.”
“To make hemp, cannabidiol derived from hemp, and any other ingredient derived from hemp lawful for use under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as a dietary ingredient in a dietary supplement, and for other purposes.”
“To authorize the regulation of interstate commerce with respect to food containing cannabidiol derived from hemp, and for other purposes.”
“To amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to repeal the prohibition for certain individuals convicted of a felony offense to participate in hemp production, and for other purposes.”
“To provide for a program within the Forest Service to detect, document, monitor, and remediate the environmental damages caused by trespass cultivation on National Forest Lands, and amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to include criminal penalties for illegal pesticide application on Government property, and for other purposes.”