The year is still relatively new, but several major events have already occurred involving cannabis and the government. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Virginia, introduced two new bills into Congress aimed at rescheduling cannabis. The Legitimate Use of Medical Marijuana Act would simply move cannabis to Schedule II status, while the other bill, co-sponsored by Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), calls for a deeper down-scheduling. Blumenauer also co-sponsored the year's first cannabis bill with Barbara Lee (D-California) and others, and it seeks to protect state-legal medical cannabis enterprises from federal asset seizures. These are just the first of many.
Another major development involves the Hoban Law Group, which represents many of the largest companies in the hemp industry. On January 13, the law group filed a petition against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) claiming federal overreach in its move to classify all cannabis extracts as Schedule I (a grouping that includes heroin, acid, peyote). The petition was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which famously maintained the freeze on Trump's seven-country ban last week. Furthermore, Robert Hoban and his team prepared a seven-page policy paper titled "Make America Hemp Again" that they delivered to the White House in an effort to educate the Trump Administration on hemp and extracts.
"The following outline sets forth the broad tenets of an achievable federal cannabis policy that
presents an opportunity for the Trump Administration to be leaders on this issue for the
betterment of the American economy," the paper says in the introduction. Over the next several pages, the paper addresses tax revenue, job growth, the Cole Memo, the Rohrabacher–Farr medical marijuana amendment and the value of non-psychoactive hemp, which constitutes a billion dollar U.S. industry with more than 50,000 known uses. Policy recommendations include descheduling hemp, rescheduling cannabis (to Schedule III) and turning the Cole Memo directive into law. The emphasis on job creation and tax revenue will hopefully, at the very least, give the administration pause should it consider rolling back prohibition reforms.
Nevertheless, the Hoban Law Group petition and policy paper are stark reminders that all cannabis advocates should do their part in helping end prohibition. How can you help? We assembled a few simple suggestions, which are as follows:
Use hemp products: Support the industry by switching to hemp-based solutions for products you already use. For example, if you start your day with a protein shake, switch to hemp-based powder, which can be found in Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and similar health-conscious stores.
Show thoughtful support on social media: Your support can be a simple statement letting your social media contacts know that you support medical and/or recreational legalization, or you can simply share an informed piece on the matter that reflects your values. Ideally use the word "cannabis" when expressing your support rather than weed, pot or marijuana as that is the proper botanical term.
Write, call and email your politicians: Your government representatives might share your views on cannabis, but that does not mean they'll act on those convictions without prodding. The Tea Party taught us that. Let your federal, state and city officials know that ending prohibition is important to you, and if they won't actively support the cause, you plan to support any primary or general election challenger who will.
Invest in cannabis companies: Do you need to make your annual IRA contribution? Consider investing in medical cannabis stocks. For an IRA account, this would be a long-term bet that science will establish the medical benefits of cannabis, and when it does, your industry support will likely result in a positive return.
Write your own policy paper: Are you still in school? If yes, consider writing a paper or giving a speech on the medical benefits of cannabis or the social injustice of prohibition. Your grade might go up or down if the teacher is biased in either direction, so put in the extra effort to make sure your work is exemplary.
Take part in protests: Around the world, legalization protests and marches have become commonplace. Add your body to the visual show of support for change, and maybe make a few new friends along the way.
Join a few groups: Be it social media groups or actual physical meet ups, connect with other cannabis advocates, and help the movement grow through unity and interconnectedness.