Federal Flailing: Blocked US Senate Can’t Seem To Bring Cannabis Legalization To The Finish Line | Cannabis

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Congress Democrats are still trying to advance cannabis legalization at the federal level, despite opposition from most Republicans at all levels of government.

Senate Bill 1183, the Safe Harbor Act for Medical Marijuana for Veterans, has won backing from Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, while the SAFE Banking Act is back for a fourth recall, but with a new tactic of passage.

Introduced in April by Hawaii Senator Mark Schatz, S.1183 would allow veterans “to use, possess or transport marijuana for medical purposes and to discuss the use of marijuana for medical purposes. medical with a doctor from the Department of Veterans Affairs, as authorized by a State or an Indian. tribe, and for other purposes.

Given the federal status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, like heroin, cannabis use by skilled veterans is currently governed by Directive 1315, a policy initially implemented in 2011. and updated in 2017 to guide the VA care of qualified patients. and allow them to discuss medical marijuana use with their VA doctors.

The directive emphasizes that “veterans should not be denied VHA services just for participating in state-approved marijuana programs.” Whether or not VA doctors follow this guideline is the subject of another column, but the intent of the rules is clear: Veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal cannot be punished for use, or even discussion. on use.

Last week, Kelly signed on as Bill’s co-sponsor, joining the Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). ) and Jacky Rosen (D-Név.). There is a companion bill in the House of Representatives, co-sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) And Dave Joyce (R-Ohio).

“Sen. Kelly wants veterans with chronic illnesses such as cancer and PTSD to be able to get the same medical advice and treatment in the VA that other Americans get from their own doctors,” said the spokesperson for Kelly, Jacob Peters, by email. “There is still work to be done to cross the finish line. Senator Kelly will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats and will continue to get the message out to Arizonans who know how much it can improve the lives of their fellow veterans.

The legislation attempts to address pressing issues among veterinarians, such as opioid abuse and overdoses, which have become rampant in the veterans community and have been a factor in the increase in veteran suicides over the years. years.

The Veterans Action Council, a veterans group dedicated to accessing cannabis through the VA, is happy to see something happening, but some don’t think the legislation goes far enough.

“I thought the United States was already a safe harbor for us,” said Tucson veteran Ricardo Pereyda. “It would have been better if this bill had been proposed in 2010.”

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Pereyda is a founding member of the group and has been a strong advocate for pot medicine since 2013.

Other members of the group see it as another step in a process that has unfolded over generations.

“These are veterans who speak for ourselves instead of others speaking for us,” said Michael Krawitz, the group’s government liaison, based in Virginia. “Veterans deserve the same access to quality health care as [other] the citizens would wait. Especially in hospital settings, veterans need to be able to use drugs that improve their quality of life and that have been shown to benefit in reducing pain and suffering. ”

Krawitz said that problems with how the VA treats cannabis can be traced back to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which places “marihuana” and “marijuana extracts” on the same legal level as heroin and prohibits the medical use of cannabis.

“This medical ban has never been in line with our treaty obligations,” he said. “To correct this, several federal laws have been proposed, one of which is the Safe Harbor for Veterans Act.”

A recent article published by the VAC and distributed to the offices of the co-sponsors of the bill presses for the VA to qualify and demand access for all who need it and provide cannabis in the same way they distribute drugs. opiates, so they don’t have to. buying “overpriced” cannabis in the commercial market.

VAC is working on federal legislation that, in part:

  • Plan for the VA to grow cannabis for veterans.
  • Promote and support home cultivation and medicinal access to a wide variety of cannabis products, especially those grown by smallholder farmers for use in traditional and complementary medicine.
  • Provide a voucher system for veterans to access cannabis through state-run medical programs, modeled on the VA Disabled Veterans Clothing Allowance program.
  • Provide an identifier on VHA patient data cards identifying veterans as federal cannabis patients, thereby eliminating the threat of prosecution / incarceration for possession of cannabis while traveling in the United States or on a federal property.

Legislation still has a long way to go, so stay tuned for updates.

SAFE nestled in the NDAA

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is making its fifth appearance in the halls of Congress. In a change of tactic, Democrats attached the bill to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022.

The law would allow licensed cannabis businesses to operate like any other legal business, with unlimited access to banking services, including the use of credit cards, access to loans, and the ability to make deposits and deposits. write paychecks.

The bill was passed by the House as part of the NDAA fundraising program in a vote of 316-113 on September 23 and will travel to the Senate, where it will likely be withdrawn in committee.

SAFE enjoys broad support, both in the cannabis and banking industries, but Republicans in the Senate have consistently killed all efforts to push through this or any other legislative attempt at the federal level.

“With legalization polls at record highs and a myriad of states operating controlled markets for both medical and adult use, it is high time the cannabis industry was able to build relationships with banks and other financial institutions, ”Mike, Arizona director of NORML. said Robinette. “The SAFE Banking Act would allow legitimate, state-licensed cannabis businesses to operate like any other legal business. For this reason, we fully support the SAFE Banking Act and urge readers to contact their Senators to urge them to adopt SAFE as part of the NDAA. ”

The legislation may, however, meet resistance from Senate Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who chairs the Committee on Banking, Housing and of urban affairs. legislation, such as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunities Act or the Marijuana Opportunities Reinvestment and Elimination Act, 2021 (HR 3884 — MORE Act).

Arizona DES will not recognize the cannabis trade as legitimate

The Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Employment and Rehabilitation Services is seeking feedback on a new policy that will not allow labor force use and innovation and
Opportunity Act funds everything related to the legal and state-sanctioned cannabis trade.

The WIOA is designed to “help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the job market and to connect employers with skilled workers. they need to be competitive in the global economy, ”according to the US Department of Labor.

The new policy aims to “clarify that federally funded programs are bound by federal law and that legislative changes made by states do not change federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds to assist businesses in the marijuana industry “.

Due to the federal status of cannabis, WIOA funds cannot be used for a number of services provided by DES for job seekers and / or business services in the marijuana industry containing cannabis. THC, including:

  • References and / or posting of job orders;
  • Training for dispensary jobs;
  • Work experience (WEX) in a dispensary; Where
  • Support services for employment in a dispensary.

Additionally, when it comes to marijuana containing THC, this means that federal funds must not:

  • Assisting a client in entering or maintaining employment related to the cultivation, sale, production, handling or distribution of marijuana in any form;
  • Support education in fields of study specific to the marijuana industry;
  • Support self-employment or the goals of small businesses, or businesses associated with the marijuana industry. This includes any business with a related activity involving marijuana as a component of the business, including freelance work plans that result in the creation of a dispensary or other job in the marijuana industry;
  • Be used to support businesses that include the production, processing, transportation, sale or other activities related to marijuana as part of their business; Where
  • Be used to purchase marijuana in any form on behalf of a customer or to assist a customer in acquiring or consuming marijuana in any form. There is no exception to this prohibition.

Comments regarding this draft policy should be submitted to the [email protected] mailbox no later than Wednesday, October 13.

Federally funded programs will not support the WIOA Title IB.

More details can be found at des.az.gov.

The pot ban is alive and well, despite a majority of Americans living in a state with legal access to pot.

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