by Michelle Rutter, NCIA Government Relations Manager
As the 116th Congress begins, the momentum behind cannabis reform has reached an unprecedented level. Let’s take a look at the top three things you can expect from cannabis legislation in the newest congressional session:
Successes in the House of Representatives, but an uphill climb in the Senate. The 116th Congress is the first time in eight years that Democrats have held control of the House of Representatives. As a result, it is expected that cannabis legislation will garner hearings, appropriations amendments will be expanded, and a bill could even be reach the Floor and be voted on! That being said, it’s important to remember that the Senate is still controlled by the more conservative Republican battle, and any cannabis amendments or legislation that reaches that chamber will have a very serious uphill battle prior to passage.
More cosponsors. In the 115th Congress, the House’s SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 2215) had a record breaking 95 cosponsors, while the Senate version (S. 1152) had 20. That’s nearly a quarter of the House of Representatives and a fifth of the entire Senate! Bills to reform IRC Section 280E saw a similar spike– at the end of 2016, the House’s Small Business Tax Equity Act had a mere 18 cosponsors, while the Senate version had four. At the end of December, the Small Business Tax Equity Act (H.R. 1810) has 46 cosponsors, while the Senate’s version (S. 777) has six. In the 116th Congress, you can expect these bills and others to continue to gather record-breaking numbers of cosponsors- in both the House and Senate.
New bills. There are cannabis bills that are introduced every session, like the banking bill, 280E bill, and various pieces of states’ rights legislation. In the 115th Congress, advocates saw multiple new cannabis bills get introduced, like the Marijuana Data Collection Act, the Marijuana Justice Act, and the MAPLE Act. As the 116th Congress continues, you can expect almost all of the cannabis related bills from last session to get reintroduced, but will likely also see a plethora of new legislation be filed that will address many different issues.
While the opportunities for cannabis reform are numerous, one thing is for sure: the 116th Congress will be one for the history books.
Join us on May 21-23, 2019 for NCIA’s 9th Annual Cannabis Industry Lobby Days in Washington, D.C., to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill! This event is complimentary and exclusive to NCIA members. Registration opens February 11.