The United States House of Representatives will vote next week on whether to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances.
Oregon’s $1 billion recreational marijuana market is facing all sorts of problems as the drug remains illegal under federal law. For example, businesses must deal primarily in cash, as banks and credit card companies often don’t want to risk running into the federal government.
Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer said the House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Wipeout Act last session, but the bill died in the Senate.
“This time we have Senate leaders supporting legalization efforts,” Blumenauer said.
Senior U.S. Senator from Oregon Ron Wyden called the vote a solid step on the road to overhauling outdated and unfair federal cannabis policy.
“I am all for moving this work forward in the Senate with the cannabis legalization bill. I am proud to lead with Sens. (Chuck) Schumer (of New York) and (Cory) Booker (of New Jersey),” Wyden said.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a leading advocacy group that supports alternatives to drug criminalization, welcomed the vote.
“For more than half a century, marijuana prohibition has been the cornerstone of the cruel and inhuman war on drugs that has deprived millions of people of their freedom and their livelihoods,” said the director. Maritza Perez in a statement. “Whose weight has fallen disproportionately on the backs of black, Latino, indigenous and low-income communities – who remain its number one target.”
Most states across the country allow the sale of cannabis in one form or another. Marijuana industry stocks rose especially on news of the impending House vote.