State Marijuana Regulators Have Talks With Federal Officials About Marijuana Legislation

An alliance of state marijuana regulators got face-to-face with federal administrators. As well as members of Congress this past week to speak on the possible influence that national wide cannabis legalization and could have on the local programs they oversee. In addition to other forms of policy change in regards to marijuana legislation

The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) this past week held a meeting. While the group doesn’t support cannabis legalization, it’s composed of people whose states have ended prohibition. With this, they could be impacted by any federal marijuana actions.

Co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus are Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Dave Joyce. Both of whom talked to state regulators, as well as speaking to staffers from other congressional offices. Delegates from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Food and Drug Administration were also present. As well as both the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

The executive director of Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency, Andrew Brisbo, spoke on the matter. In an interview, he said federal officials were “very receptive” during the conversation. These officials acknowledged the state regulators as “willing to be good partners in their ongoing conversations.”

“I think the primary thing we wanted to get across is, as federal policymakers are engaged in conversations and thoughtfully considering how to approach federal policy reform, that it’s critical that state regulators have a seat at the table to share our perspective,” he stated.

“Obviously we all know from our experiences what has worked in state regulatory environments—probably more importantly what hasn’t worked and we want to lend that perspective,” he added. Product labeling, testing, and improving social and economic equity are some of those concerns that were addressed.

What is Next For Federal Cannabis Reform

The conversation also highlighted legislation to protect banks that service state-legal marijuana businesses. This potential bill would save banks from being punished by federal regulators. Brisbo said that while CANNRA isn’t taking a position on cannabis legislation that’s moving through Congress, that’s one “critical” issue. Which is a concern that could be discussed in the short term.

Regulators from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois Massachusetts, Minnesota, were active in the meeting. As well as Nevada, Oregon, Utah taking part in the meeting.

“One particular thing we want to ensure is that there’s consideration for existing state frameworks,” Brisbo said. “There’s been a lot of time and investment and engagement with stakeholders in the various states that have legalized in their specific frameworks—and there are some differences, and those things aren’t necessarily accidents.”

“There are some deliberate measures to honor the will of the people in those states and establish structures that work on the state level,” he continued. “We want to ensure that that’s given consideration in any sort of federal policy reform—that the progress that states had made, and the things that are successful in those individual states, aren’t just overrun by a federal policy approach.”

At the beginning of 2021, CANNRA sent a letter to congressional leaders, outlining cannabis policy priorities and offering assistance as lawmakers consider a number of reform proposals that are set to advance this session.

[Read More] State Legislators Are Finding Support For Legal Cannabis In Pennsylvania

Final Thoughts On Cannabis Reform And Federal Leaders

Those priorities issues related to protecting states that have legalized marijuana in some form, providing banking access to state-legal cannabis businesses, promoting research into marijuana, ensuring social and economic equity in legal markets, and supporting public health initiatives. In Congress, the sponsors of a Senate bill to provide cannabis banking protections are now publicly urging a key chairman told to put the legislation to a vote.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are in the process of drafting their own legalization bill, which is expected to be released shortly.

[Read More] Legal Cannabis Could Soon Make Its Way Into Rhode Island

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has refiled his marijuana legalization bill. This proposal is known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act. Supporters are pushing for a vote on that measure this month. As well some are hoping for a list of key changes to improve its social equity components.


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