VP Harris Says White House Is "Too Busy" For Federal Cannabis Policy Reform | Morning Buzz
Cannabis News Update April 8, 2021
Today in the world of cannabis: A California Senate committee approves a bill to decriminalize psychedelics statewide, a South Carolina senator threatens to block all other presented legislation if their medical cannabis bill is blocked in the state legislature, and Vice President Harris says that the Biden White House is currently too focused on coronavirus relief to address federal cannabis policy reform.
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** First up: In a report by Marijuana Moment, this week, a California state Senate committee approved a measure that would decriminalize psychedelics and establish a taskforce to examine wider reforms. Other measures were also passed by the committee, allowing municipalities in California to open temporary safe consumption sites for illicit substances.
If made law, it would make it legal for adults 21 years or older to carry or share a large array of psychoactive substances, including psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ibogaine, LSD, and MDMA. Prior sentences for offenses that the measure makes legal would be expunged.
Additionally, a coalition of California advocates unveiled plans to place a proposal on the state ballot in 2022 to allow consumption and legal retail of psilocybin. Decriminalize California noted it will first try to persuade policymakers to implement legislation, and if that fails, it will present the issue to the voters.
The measure has now been sent to the Senate Health Committee for consideration.
** And next: Marijuana Moment reports that a South Carolina state senator and sponsor of the state’s proposed medical cannabis legalization bill has threatened to oppose every other proposed bill in the state Legislature if their political colleagues choose to reject the legalization bill.
“We’re going to get this bill passed,” said Senator Tom Davis (R), sponsor of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act. “And if there are some up on the Senate floor that are still in this reefer madness, drug war mentality and block and stand in the way of this bill, I will exercise my rights as a senator to respond in kind to every single other bill on this calendar.”
Following the bill passing the Senate Medical Affairs Committee by a 9-5 vote last week, Senator Greg Hembree (R) announced earlier this week that they plan to stop the cannabis bill from moving forward in the Senate. With the refusal of just a single senator, the measure would need a three-fifths consensus to move forward.
“We need to get this bill passed. I understand what South Carolinians want,” Davis said. “They want to empower doctors, they want to help patients, they do not want recreational use.”
In a press briefing, Davis claimed that the federal ban on cannabis was put in place during the Nixon administration to “punish” the president’s political adversaries. However, Davis is solely concentrated on repealing the prohibition for medicinal purposes.
** Last up: In a report by Marijuana Moment, in their first public remarks on cannabis since the presidential campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris effectively noted that the Biden administration is too preoccupied with keeping election promises and handling the COVID-19 pandemic to concentrate on cannabis decriminalization and record expungement.
When questioned about cannabis policies in a discussion with The San Francisco Chronicle, Vice President Harris said, “We haven’t yet taken that on,” regardless of election pledges to press for federal cannabis policy reform.
“Honestly, right now, we’ve been focused on getting people food, helping them stay in their apartments or in their homes, getting kids back to school, getting shots into arms,” said the VP. “That has been all-consuming.”
Cannabis reform and coronavirus relief, according to proponents, are not incongruous. Eliminating federal cannabis prohibition would allow more states to establish cannabis taxation and regulatory programs, generating much-needed employment and income to help them recover economically.
Protecting cannabis companies would allow them to gain access to financial services, allowing them to avoid depending on cash payments, which puts employees and customers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
Advocates also claim that legalization would minimize unnecessary law enforcement encounters and arrests, which may contribute to the virus’ spread.