CNCounty News

Federal legislation moving on cannabis

Image of Leg19_Sun-335_rgb_1600.jpg

Key Takeaways

State and local efforts to legalize and regulate cannabis may be more consequential than any federal drug laws enforcement, according to Saphira Galoob, CEO of the Liaison Group that lobbies exclusively on federal cannabis issues.

 “While you think what happens in D.C. with me has a big impact on you locally, I want to let you know it’s actually the reverse,” Galoob told participants at Sunday’s Cannabis Roundtable. “What’s happening locally has far more of an impact on where we’re going and how we’re going to get there federally.”

She said that there is a generational divide among support for cannabis legalization in Congress, with fairly even support across younger members of both parties, and the stigma associated with the drug plays a big part in opposition. Proven success regulating cannabis would be the record on which the movement could run, but information exchange and state sovereignty were crucial.

“Most folks from Oklahoma have never been to Washington (state) and seen how a regulated industry will reveal itself, she said. “States should be in the driver’s seat. If the state wants an opt-out provision or a state wants no cannabis, then the STATES Act approach is what you want.”

Galoob called the bipartisan STATES Act, which would recognize legalization of cannabis and the U.S. state laws that have legalized it through their legislatures or citizen initiative, a good first step, if an imperfect bill

“It’s a fairly simple and direct solution that allows us to continue to evaluate how we in the states want to address the cannabis situation,” she said.

Roughly 60 bills propose removing cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s most-regulated Schedule I, where it has been since the Nixon Administration.

“We haven’t had the thoughtfulness and the federal framework on what would be the impact of descheduling,” Galoob said.

Although bills that would deschedule cannabis could clear the House, the likelihood that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow such a vote were slim.

Galoob said although it is difficult to pass standalone legislation in Congress, the appropriations process remains a powerful tool. For example, in 2014, the appropriations process defunded the Department of Justice’s ability to prohibit a state from implementing its own medical cannabis laws.

“We want to continue that support so lawfully licensed regulated businesses in your counties are free from federal interference,” she said.

Tagged In:


Related News

Nathan Boyd describes the dramatic reduction in herbicide use, and the number of computers the humidity had fried, when the University of Florida applied machine learning to herbicide application. Photo by Charlie Ban
County News

Artificial intelligence teases agricultural “revolution”

A University of Florida researcher sees great potential for artificial intelligence to help overcome agriculture's labor shortage.

Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center, describes the cycles of sensitivity to foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land. Photo by Denny Henry
County News

Most foreign-owned ag land remains in friendly hands

Despite cycles of concern about foreign ownership, less than 4% of U.S. private agricultural land is owned by foreign entities, and only 12 states have enacted laws limiting foreign ownership.

THE_County Countdown_working_image-4.png

County Countdown – June 17, 2024

Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.