The House Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill containing a provision to remove Cannabis from the Schedule 1 list of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) via a 24 to 10 vote on November 20, 2019.

The House Judiciary Committee has just approved a marijuana bill containing a provision to remove Cannabis from the Schedule 1 list of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) via a 24 to 10 vote on November 20, 2019.

The CSA – included in the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, the basis of the government’s war on drugs campaign – defines Schedule 1 Drugs as those with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” and the most dangerous of all due to “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence”. Other substances in this category include LSD, Heroin, Ecstasy, Peyote and Methaqualone.

What’s inside the box?

The marijuana bill, should it be signed into law, effectively enables states to create and enforce their own policies and provides incentives to clear low-level marijuana criminal offenses. 

Also notably included is a 5% tax on cannabis products to be used for livelihood training and legal help for war-on-drug casualties. A statistic released by the American Civil Liberties Union indicate that more than 50% of all drug arrests in the US are marijuana-related and the assistance seeks to respond to the negative effect on communities of color brought by disproportionate drug laws. 

Uphill Battle

While this marijuana bill is expected to be approved in the Democrat-controlled full House, it still faces an uphill battle in the largely Republican Senate with Majority leader Mitch McConnell (KY) being a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization.

Early sentiment is that the marijuana bill went “too far” and that it was “unlikely to be taken up” at all in the Senate. 

Democrat and Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). has also indicated as much, saying “the Senate won’t take this bill…”, but did state that House Democrats can “negotiate” by saying, “When the house passes a bill, it’s part of a continuing process. It’s not the end of a process.”

The marijuana bill includes a list of more than 50 sponsors with supporters in the form of Presidential candidate hopefuls Kamala Harris (CA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (MA).

I Fought the Law (and the Law Won)

The “Marihuana Tax Act” of 1937 was the first law responsible for marijuana’s criminalization under federal law, effectively making possession and transfer illegal throughout the US, excluding medical and industrial use. The Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956 effectively enforced mandatory sentencing and increased punishment notably making first time cannabis possession punishable by a minimum of two to ten years with a fine of up to $20,000. The CSA in 1970 which is still in effect repealed these, but all throughout prohibited the use of cannabis for any purpose. 

While currently only 11 states including the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use and 33 states including DC have legalized its medical use, polls have indicated that a majority of Americans (2 out of 3, according to the Pew Research Center) support the legalization of marijuana and that this has been a major public sentiment. It’s particularly curious how we got to the point of it being on that Schedule 1 list in the first place. 

There’s an entertaining 5 minute video of that HERE.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? The approval of this marijuana bill is a landmark move and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has called this the “biggest marijuana news of the year”, but all that goes to bunk if we don’t keep an eye on it. You can check out more news on this and other marijuana-related updates by registering and subscribing to us.