By Dalton Rosario
Capital Hill welcomed a series of pro-cannabis bills filed consecutively this week by Oregon Democratic State Senator Ron Wyden. These legislations titled S.420, S.421 and S.422 seek to implement realistic milestones for granting federally legal cannabis provisions along with all of the benefits fitting for legitimately licensed businesses that facilitate state-level market demand and nationwide distribution. Wyden like many state lawmakers have taken ownership of the budding opinions from voters supported by popular demand. As detailed in a written statement to the press, “Federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed.” For this reason S.420 has been scripted with the intent of de-scheduling cannabis; calling for its immediate removal from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which alleviates legality disputes between federal and state law by establishing uniform federal taxes on all cannabis sales as well as sponsoring business permit registration programs for companies entering or already established within the industry.
The two follow-up bills S.421 and S.422 aim to bridge the gap between nationwide versus state-side cannabis policies by proposing means for federal banks to safely provide financial services for cannabis companies as well as sanctioning the removal of constraints against cannabis companies being able to advertise their products and services on traditional platforms such as social media marketing and aired ads on television. Likewise, S.421 demands the immediate expungement of non-violent cannabis convictions, as well as allowing doctors and licensed physicians to prescribe medical grade cannabis for our Department of Veterans Affairs and making sure that immigrants cannot be deported for non-violent cannabis-related arrests. Bill S.422 follows suit by allowing cannabis companies to file for tax deductions that are currently unavailable for business owners despite being common practice across all other industries within the U.S. There is much anticipation for what 2019 has in store for reformation policies unapologetically targeting cannabis probation and ending the decades of abuse by the enforcement of the war on drugs and its residual effects on our communities.
By Dalton Rosario
Next week on February 7th, Hawaii’s Committee on the Judiciary will vote on cannabis legalization. This is a widely discussed topic throughout the state lately as the Democratic Party presidential nominee Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) openly advocates for cannabis reformation ranging from years of supporting bills that exempt CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, to legalizing industrial hemp and providing assurance for banks that service registered cannabis businesses. This legislation, if passed in Hawaii's Committee on the Judiciary, would allow for adults aged 21+ to cultivate, consume and possess cannabis. Also, manufacturing licenses would be issued for dispensaries and retail locations throughout the islands.
As outlined in the bill, “the legalization of marijuana for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of marijuana and attitude toward marijuana,” deducing a commercial interest in regulating and taxing the statewide cannabis market and a fundamental understanding that investing in healthy industries such as these reduce black market incentive for violent crimes related to the cultivation and distribution of cannabis. The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH) believes that regulatory frameworks of commerce are not enough to address the iniquities disproportionately targeted against communities of poverty thus far perpetrated by the war on drugs. They say that more needs to be done; which would likely include expungement services against prior non-violent convictions and/or on-going possession charges being dropped based on similar examples of restitution programs implemented across the country.