Episode 16 - Special Report: Will Cannabis Ever Be Legal in the US?
An exclusive interview with Tami Wahl and Saphira Galoob, the two top cannabis lobbyists in Washington.
It’s obviously worrying, what’s going on in Washington under the Cheeto-in-Chief. Trying to predict where his administration is heading on most issues, including on cannabis policy, is a fool’s errand.
While 29 states have legalized some form of marijuana Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions seems intent on stamping it out or at least keeping the prohibition firmly in place. His Justice Department has sent signals that they want to reverse the Cole memo, the Obama administration directive that warned the Justice Department off from prosecuting businesses and operations in legal states. And he has threatened to enforce Federal marijuana laws -- even for medical patients -- in states where voters have made cannabis legal. (On November 11, 2017 a 12-year-old Texan, Alexis Bortell, filed a suit against Sessions over the nation’s federal ban. Her family was forced to move from Texas to Colorado to get treatment for her epileptic treatment).
Meanwhile, there’s a flurry of legislative activity that provides hope that the war is not lost. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker unveiled a proposal to legalize marijuana at the federal level -- a Quixotic long shot to say the least, but one that 64% of Americans say they favor, according to recent polls. Another senator is trying to attach measures to bills that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to counsel patients on the use of medical marijuana, which advocates have been arguing for decades. In the House, Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed legislation that would remove cannabis from its Schedule I classification so that US research on its medical uses could get underway.
It’s a schizophrenic but important moment for the cannabis movement. To get a reading on where things stand in Congress, I turned to Tami Wahl and Saphira Galoob, two powerhouse lawyers who run The Liaison Group, the only lobbying firm in the capitol exclusively devoted to shaping the legislative and policy landscape for this much-maligned plant. Listen to their interview for the real scoop on what’s going on inside the Beltway. One takeaway: things aren’t as dire as the headlines might lead you to think. A number of lawmakers, even some of the most conservative Republicans, can be persuaded on advancing legalization. Details within.