PHARMA

Medical Marijuana Reform: What Does US Home Alternative Postponement Imply For MMJ?

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The current pandemic has caused many government operations to stall. Many sectors have focused heavily on addressing the rising number of COVID-19 and efforts to slow the transmission of the virus.

One such reform that has taken a back seat is medical marijuana. A scheduled vote, due to take place in September, has been postponed and it is possible that it will not be on the table again until after the much-anticipated 2020 elections. What does this mean for medical marijuana reform in the US?

Federal legalization 2020 could have some obstacles

Before the pandemic broke out, many states had enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana that would allow reform of penalties for those in possession. With the virus postponing many committees, it is not clear when they will be on the vote.

Medical cannabis programs were also introduced in states like Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Caroline, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, but all were suspended prematurely, with some bills dying before they could even dated Stand up floor.

Image by Matthew Ansley to Unsplash: Many people are waiting for reform to overturn previous and pending marijuana convictions.

The MORE law

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act was proposed in 2019 to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, resulting in a reduction in criminal penalties for use and possession for both future and those with previous or pending convictions. It would also pave the way for funding and granting programs for small businesses in the industry.

At the time of writing, 33 states have chosen to allow the use of medical marijuana for a wide variety of conditions, but with the marijuana legalization vote stalling, it’s not sure when the others will follow suit.

What the new marijuana legislation will mean

For many Americans, especially those of color or in certain disenfranchised communities, the need to legalize marijuana is particularly important. Statistics have shown that certain communities are more prone to tougher sentences for marijuana-related crimes, which in turn jeopardizes their ability to develop throughout their lives. For those with drug-related marijuana-related offenses, it could mean they are in jail. The new legislation aims to eliminate the chance for this altogether and instead impose fines.

Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noted that the delay in the vote was due to fear and that the decision to move this bill forward could be racially motivated and that possibly more nefarious actions on behalf of the Republican Party are involved.

Why is marijuana legalization important?

Studies have shown that the use of medical marijuana can be of great benefit to people suffering from certain diseases such as cancer, chronic pain, mood disorders, and indigestion. If states keep cannabis on the criminalized substance list, it will be difficult for people to gain access to anything that would help them significantly in their struggle for a better quality of life.

It is also important that certain populations not be afraid of consuming small amounts of marijuana, as in the current situation many people will be convicted of serious crimes when it is not necessary. This increase in fear and risk translates into less regulation, more opportunities for adding harmful chemicals to marijuana, and increased risk when purchasing. Research has also found that recreational marijuana use in adults poses a lower risk of long-term effects than long-term recreational alcohol use.

MMJRecs - United StatesImage by Justin Cron to Unsplash: Current racial segregation in the US could benefit from measures such as medical marijuana reform.

With no definitive timetable for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially if cases are still on the rise in many areas, the bills are unlikely to be introduced before election day. This delay in voting has also had an impact on tension between the republic and the democratic parties, as well as the racial segregation the country is currently in. Many communities falling victim to unfair marijuana laws are predominantly colored people, many people who have already been convicted of cannabis offenses.

Medical marijuana reform is needed in all states to ensure racial equality and access to adequate medical care when someone needs it. These laws, if passed, will help fill these loopholes.

Image from Quick PS on Unsplash

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Beth Edmonds