Senator Ron Wyden, one of the three key players in the Senate’s marijuana legalization campaign, thinks the group has “a real shot now at making progress.” However, I can’t decide whether this attitude is wishful thinking, delusions of grandeur, or just another political illusion designed to keep Democrats looking progressive and productive.
There is a whole lot stacked against the cannabis reform debate this year. Slim majorities in both houses, the controversial fate of the filibuster, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s threats of a scorched earth Senate, and Biden’s apparent anti-cannabis stance could all have a negative impact on this battle. Ending pot prohibition is bigger than Senate Democrats. It’s a feat that will need significant reach from both sides of Congress and the White House to gain enough traction to advance. One way or another, divergence and bad blood will likely continue to be the ultimate saboteur.
RELATED: If Senate Democrats’ Idea Of Cannabis Reform Is SAFE Banking Act, They Should Give Up Now
Earlier this week, we predicted that, if backed against a wall, Senate Democrats might try to pass a measly banking bill and call it cannabis reform. Wall Street analysts have since come forward to confirm that such a move is precisely what the party plans to do if they can’t rally enough support for full legalization. It’s “the backup plan if Democrats cannot enact legalization legislation,” Cowen’s Jaret Seiberg recently told MarketWatch. “Right now there is pressure to pass a cannabis bill,” said Seiberg. “Passing the SAFE Act would relieve that pressure, which means legalization would be unlikely to get a Senate vote. It is why the more likely play is to try to pass legalization with the backup plan of switching to the SAFE Act if there are not the votes to legalize.”
We shall see soon whether Schumer’s plan to legalize marijuana while keeping the cannabis industry in the hands of small businesses has any clout. It seems highly unlikely that will be the case. This is America, after all. Even at the state level, marijuana corporations have played at stakes much higher than their pay grade. They’ve tried to compete with the big dogs, and now they’re officially in the cage.
Schumer’s concept of a small national cannabis sector and giving back to ravaged drug war communities could be viewed as soft and laughed off the Hill. However it shakes out, the cannabis industry will eventually lock horns with Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco to maintain control. These two mega industrial sectors come with extremely deep pockets and far too much political experience to just walk away from potentially billions of dollars.
No, this is only the beginning.
The Fresh Toast is a daily lifestyle platform with a side of cannabis. For more information, visit www.thefreshtoast.com.