WASHINGTON – They say you should keep politics out of your Thanksgiving gatherings.
However, if your family can’t help themselves, one hot topic in Washington is marijuana and what needs to be done at the federal level.
Currently, legalization varies greatly by state. 21 states have legalized or plan to legalize recreational pot soon.
However, there are some serious questions facing Congress right now, including whether cannabis should be legal nationwide.
WHY SHOCKS NOW
While the cannabis industry has been very successful in the states in recent years, it has been less successful in Washington.
Marijuana is still federally illegal and is still classified by the DEA in the same category as heroin.
After Thanksgiving, however, get ready for a major push to pass new laws.
“The clock is ticking,” said Morgan Fox, policy director of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform.
Fox says the next period until Jan. 3 is seen as the best chance for the marijuana industry to do something for a while.
Republicans who take over the House in January are not expected to be as close an ally as the current Democratic-led House.
“Key committees are going to be hijacked by some die-hard prohibitionists,” Fox said.
“We really have to try to take in as much as we can and be pragmatic about it,” Fox added.
So what could have passed? Full legalization at the federal level?
It is not worth counting on, experts say. It doesn’t seem to have any votes.
However, smaller ideas like secure banking can.
What is this?
Well, many cannabis businesses cannot access the US banking system because banking is federally regulated and marijuana is still illegal.
The Safe Bank proposal in Congress would make this possible in states where it is legal.
Earlier this year in Oakland, a dispensary owner told us how he was shot during a robbery.
He felt that the purely monetary nature of the industry made him a target.
“It’s just the nature of working in the cannabis industry.” Joshua Chase said at the time.
Marijuana-related financial bills, such as safe banking, could be attached to an expected budget vote in the coming weeks.
However, it will not be easy.
Many conservatives remain opposed, fearing that the drug could lead to other addictions as well as crime.
If nothing happens by January, the cannabis industry won’t consider the past two years a total failure.
Earlier this year, President Biden pardoned thousands of marijuana convicts and is expected to sign a landmark research bill soon.