Cannabis Takes the Capitol by Storm (Special Feature)

When cannabis was de facto outlawed in the United States in 1937 with the Marihuana Tax Act, reefer madness and racism were the primary motivations. But when the U.S. government doubled down in 1970 by passing the Controlled Substances Act, classifying the plant as a Schedule 1 substance having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, cannabis became an even more controversial issue.

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“You have to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are on hemp,” said Patrick Goggin, a senior attorney with Hoban Law Group who has worked on hemp and cannabis reform for two decades. “It’s never been through standalone legislation, and we never had it pass at the federal level. It was always through spending provisions or the Farm Bill. So, we could see something in additional provisions in budget and spending bills, or there may be something happening on the CBD side.”

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For old-school reform advocates like Goggin, watching the cannabis-policy merry-go-round at the federal level has not inspired much optimism, despite all the current activity.

“Frankly, I stopped paying attention to cannabis legislation at the federal level a long time ago, because it never goes anywhere. What’s different now?” he asked. “It’s all about Congress, and they have shown no appetite for pushing the ball down the road. Maybe we’re getting closer, and this will actually happen sooner than later. That’s what happened with hemp: We made zero progress, then really quick progress. We get used to waiting, and it comes when it comes.”