News, Politics

Chuck Schumer and Al Harrington Talk Federal Cannabis Legislation

February 23, 2021 10:30 am ET
Chuck Schumer and Al Harrington Talk Federal Cannabis Legislation

Cannabis legalization and positive cannabis reform in the United States of America is something that needs to happen. At the end of last year, we saw the MORE Act gain positive traction only to be shut down by the Republican-controlled Senate of 2020. Apparently, some of our politicians have been alive and in office way too long and remain cemented in the ways of prohibitions past. Countless Americans have had their lives destroyed by cannabis prohibition and the failed War on Drugs. Our own government has even finally acknowledged this failure. The acknowledgment of this failure should produce fast and steady results in fixing the wrongs of yesteryear. If our political leaders do not remove cannabis from its current federal schedule as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, then it is clear to me that those who are governing our future are still stuck living in our past. Our past is not a pretty one. Times have changed, and hopefully, our political leaders will acknowledge this change and move forward to transform the current federal cannabis legislation.

Expungement, Federal Cannabis Legislation, Reform and More 

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer had an interview recently with former NBA legend Al Harrington. Al owns Viola brands, which is a cannabis concentrate company producing products in Oregon, Colorado, California, and Michigan.

During this interview, Al and Chuck discussed Mr. Schumer’s support for bringing an end to draconian federal marijuana prohibition. Chuck Schumer has a bill of his own to legalize cannabis. During the interview, he told Al, “Our bill, the bill I put in, now, we’re putting it together with some other bills.” By other bills, it is unclear whether Chuck is referencing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment And Expungement Act or MORE Act as it is more commonly called. Or if it was in reference to the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act designed to remove cannabis from its current federal scheduling. Under this Act, tax revenue would be redirected to help communities that were most affected by the failed war on drugs.

It would also work on a program to help expunge prior cannabis charges from records. Most people would believe that the reference to combining his bill with another bill would be to the MORE Act. This has been the driving force for positive cannabis reform for many advocates, and it even managed to pass the House in 2020. Sadly, it went no further in the Republican-controlled Senate at the time. 2021 is a new year, though. Al and Chuck also discussed their stance on preventing the FDA from imposing regulations on the cannabis industry.

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Diverting Funds to Develop Cannabis Breathalyzers

These are all great points, but Chuck did make a statement I disagree with. He expressed interest in directing funds to the development of a cannabis breathalyzer, stating, “just like you shouldn’t drive under the influence of alcohol, you probably shouldn’t drive under the influence of too much marijuana.”

What about cigarettes, Chuck? If I were to inhale one hit off of a cigarette while driving, chances are I would get dizzy and crash into something. Where are the regulations and regulatory system overseeing the tobacco industry to make sure these toxic sticks with hundreds of chemicals in them aren’t affecting my ability to function? Let’s not mention the thousands of individuals that drive around on a daily basis under the influence and effects of pharmaceuticals. Further, is he aware of the difficulty in drug testing for THC intoxication? THC lingers in the body for much longer than the high or intoxication lasts. This means that people can present with THC in the system without being intoxicated at all. With the fluctuating body mass, the difference in levels of THC, and terpene reactions that may or may not cause more or less absorption of cannabinoids, and many other factors to count in, it doesn’t seem like we are at a level yet where a breathalyzer could accurately determine cannabis intoxication.

Echoing comments he previously made in an interview with MSNBC during the interview with Harrington, Schumer stated “I believe in freedom. Let people do what they want. And it became pretty apparent years ago that all these horror stories, you know, ‘legalize marijuana and crime will go up’—well, states legalized, crime didn’t go up. “If you legalize marijuana, everyone will become a big druggie.” That didn’t happen either.”

Progress is Happening and for That We Celebrate

On the bright side of all of this, we are seeing potential progress amongst our federal government when it comes to cannabis reform. Cannabis legalization is long overdue. It is a plant that never should have been kept from the people, to begin with. It allowed other industries to dominate society while those who supported a plant that a government tried to eradicate were destroyed. They arrested people, tore apart families, and have tried to destroy cannabis since the beginning of its prohibition in 1937. On numerous occasions, reports have shown people favor cannabis legalization and that its prohibition was built on falsehoods. It is time for a change. It is time to right the wrongdoings of the past and to move forward into a new era where cannabis, patients, and consumers are all respected for what they have to offer society. And the only way to carry this out is to reform our country’s federal cannabis legislation.

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