As we head into the Independence Day weekend, I cannot help but reflect upon the ideas of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness that were espoused 241 years ago, and the relation those Revolutionary Era rights have to our present day efforts to enact meaningful cannabis reform that will allow businesses access to banking, provide for state-first regulatory and enforcement systems, and provide an equitable tax structure. We do not need to delve into the history of, or a discourse about, Enlightenment political philosophy that led to the drafting and publication of the Declaration. However, we must take notice of one important passage, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the CONSENT (emphasis added) of the governed…it is the Right of the People to alter…it,” i.e. the government.
Since 1996, when California implemented Proposition 215, legalizing medical cannabis use, the taboo nature of marijuana has evolved. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have authorized some form of medical use. Eight states permit recreational adult use. A recent survey conducted by Survey USA shows that 76% of Americans want the federal government to respect state marijuana laws. A Quinnipiac poll found that 73% of Americans oppose federal intervention into the legal, state-based cannabis industry, as it exists today, with 94% support for medical use of cannabis. The same poll found that 76% of respondents feel that marijuana should be removed from the Schedule 1 classification. These numbers represent “the consent of the governed.”
These numbers are also helping to change the attitudes of our federal representatives. Some of them are listening to the “governed.” Currently there are 18 bills that have been introduced during the 115th Congress. These bills have the support 56 Republican sponsors/cosponsors and 106 Democrats. Supporters include libertarians, such as Senator Rand Paul; tea party favorites, like Senator Mike Lee; House Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash; a former prosecutor, Thomas Garrett, Jr.; and onetime Reagan speechwriter and Afghan freedom fighter, Dana Rohrabacher. Across the aisle, the support for cannabis reform is also broad, including legislative stalwarts such as Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and staunch progressive candidate for President, Bernie Sanders. Additionally, former Newark mayor and civil rights champion Senator Cory Booker, tech executive Representative Jared Polis, and Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen have signed onto the bill – showing the true diversity among those who believe in this legislation.
As you celebrate Freedom and Liberty this weekend take a moment or two to contact your federal representative. Let them know that this is a government for the people and by the people, and that they are empowered solely by our consent. Visit www.newfederalismfund.org to let them know that you support cannabis reform that will allow businesses access to banking, provide for state-first regulatory and enforcement systems, provide an equitable tax structure and a decrease in the influence of black-market products and drug cartels.
Happy Independence Day!!