Bill Weinberg recently wrote an article for Paper magazine (yes, it’s printed on paper!) about changing cannabis laws and quoted me about how this might happen. Here’s a link to the full article, and my quotes excerpted below in context.

Yet since 2015, various bills have been introduced in Congress to legalize cannabis at the federal level — removing it from the schedule system altogether. The most recent was just introduced in January by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) — the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, wittily numbered HR 420. (“420” has long been slang for getting high among cannabis aficionados.)

So there is some optimism in the ranks.

Chris Conrad, a longtime California cannabis advocate, actually thinks it can happen.

He forecasts: “House Democrats are already poised to pass cannabis de-scheduling legislation over to the Senate, where it either passes or gets attached to another bill and passes, then the president signs it and claims a victory in summer or winter of 2019. Unfortunately, Senator McConnell has authoritarian tendencies and could block legislation from getting a floor vote. But on the other hand, his role in de-scheduling industrial hemp suggests that he might be open to it.”

Conrad sees a second scenario as more likely: “McConnell will bottle House bills up in 2019 but let legalization pass the Senate in early 2020 as a way to grab the youth vote going into the fall elections or, at least, to take the issue away from Democrats to campaign on.”

Since 2015, various bills have been introduced in Congress to legalize cannabis at the federal level.

What Conrad sees as a third and perhaps most likely path is for the president to do it by executive order in the later part of 2020 “for that same political motive.”

He adds, wryly: “The best tactic is always to play up to his vanity. For example, someone could name a strain of cannabis ‘Trump Gold’ and announce that it won a tremendous contest for the best, most terrific strain of cannabis in the world, maybe the best of all time. But nobody can get it because it’s illegal…unless The Donald orders the DEA to take marijuana out of the CSA. Plus, someone might point out that he personally could get a huge commission by licensing his name to it, being the most popular strain ever in the world and all.”

And some advocates are already anticipating how small growers will negotiate the transition to a federally legalized market. Kerry Reynolds is the organizer of Sohum Guild, a group of family-operated artisanal cannabis farms in southern Humboldt County, the heart of the Emerald Triangle.

Remember to read the whole article, it’s great!

— Excerpted from Bill Weinberg’s article in Paper magazine