The American Bar Association has taken a bold stance in favor of cannabis reform. The influential group, which recently held its annual meeting in San Francisco, California, is urging Congress to end its anti-cannabis federal laws.
And the great thing about the ABA is that they also put together a proposal on how Congress could fix the loopholes in the system.
The ABA’s House of Delegates has passed a resolution that outlines three recommendations to Congress. To be more specific, the resolution urges Congress to enact legislation that:
1. exempts the production, distribution, use, or possession of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act as long as it is carried out in compliance with state laws.
2. removes cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Substances under Schedule I are considered to have no therapeutic benefit and to have a high potential for abuse.
3. encourages scientific research into the dose, efficacy, routes of administration, and side effects of commercially available marijuana products in the country.
Resolution 104 was passed without any vocal opposition.
According to the ABA, Congress could solve the regulatory quagmire by passing federal legislation that empowers the states to opt out of the Controlled Substances Act. This would make the strict prohibitions under the CSA inapplicable to any action that complies with state cannabis law. As such, compliance with state law would also make such action compliant with federal law.
In other words, there would be no more room for confusion and contradiction between state and federal laws.
Additionally, the ABA’s recommendation, if heeded by Congress, would allow cannabis businesses to finally get access to banking and financial services from major national banks. Major banks currently refuse to offer their services to cannabis enterprises for fear of federal prosecution. As a result, cannabis companies are forced to do business on a cash-only basis.
How will the ABA’s resolution impact federal cannabis policy?
It is still unclear how and to what degree Resolution 104 will affect cannabis policy in the country.
According to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) founder and public interest attorney Keith Stroup, they are optimistic that the ABA’s resolution will send a bold message to U.S. lawmakers.
Stroup said this move by the ABA is significant because the group is traditionally conservative and when they get behind something, it gives that position credibility for many elected officials, which credibility it wouldn’t otherwise have.
The ABA boasts over 400,000 members. ABA representatives, however, declined to indicate whether the group’s government affairs office will take an active stance on federal cannabis laws. The ABA’s government affairs office is able to lobby on behalf of the organization’s many policies.