Congress has struck a rare accord as they unite to critique Russia's stance on cannabis, urging domestic reforms like SAFE Banking and drug rescheduling. The resolution, which called for the release of Cannabis prisoners in another nation, has riled U.S. Cannabis activists who've demanded for decades that the plant be removed entirely from scheduled substance.
Longstanding tensions with Russia have amplified in recent years, particularly following their invasion of Ukraine. From energy threats to veiled nuclear intimations, Putin's aggressive posture continues to stir the global political pot.
Despite the complexities of this relationship, Russia's stringent marijuana laws have not escaped Congressional scrutiny. Possessing up to 6 grams of marijuana or two grams of hashish can result in administrative punishment, including fines and up to 15 days of detention. Higher quantities escalate the offense to criminal, a complicated predicament for detained U.S., U.K., or E.U. citizens.
As Russia grapples with global isolation due to its aggressive pursuits, it attempts to curry favor, notably writing off over $20 billion in debt for several African states, many of which also enforce stringent marijuana laws.
Contrastingly, Russia also hosts the world's most prolific vodka consumers, with the average citizen taking 17 shots per month. This dichotomy reveals a nation seeking solace amidst turmoil yet resisting the chill appeal of cannabis.
The U.S. House has unanimously green-lighted a resolution demanding the release of Americans wrongfully imprisoned in Russia, including figures like Marc Fogel.
Representative Michael McCaul's (R-TX) proposal demands the immediate release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and BorgWarner executive Paul Whelan while extending support and solidarity to families of unjustly detained citizens.
Yet, Congress's international scrutiny doesn't mirror its introspection toward domestic marijuana laws. Two significant issues loom over the White House and Congress.
Firstly, the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act is a financial lifeline for the cannabis industry. Introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Representative Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the bill has gained vocal support from Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), with Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) spearheading the legislation's advocacy.
The current administration's promise to reschedule or remove Cannabis from Schedule One remains unfulfilled, despite mounting pressure. In a display of grassroots bipartisan support, GOP Representative Greg Steube (R-FL) has taken a proactive stance, introducing a bill designed to prompt action from the Democratic White House and President Biden.
Despite the American public's overwhelming favor towards cannabis legalization, the U.S. Congress remains consumed by foreign affairs that some argue are disconnected from their constituents' immediate needs, a situation increasingly wearing on public patience.
As much as it pleases me to see the US Congress take some time out and write a resolution, agree to it, and gain signatures - it also disturbs me as a former Civil rights lobbyist as I know how much time this took. Here's the resolution.
While I would never say it's terrible to see this type of movement in favor of Cannabis, there's no way around the contradiction and irony of it. We all cheered a presidential resolution but have yet to see congressional activity that gives US Citizens any relief but watch as they work to change Russia's policy.
The Cannabis Industry operates under Schedule One, while the Medical Industry distributes Schedule 2,3, and 4 drugs, which people Overdose and die daily on. Many are cut off from using them and go to the plant in one way or another, so none of this makes sense.
Why are we asking other nations to change their policy when ours is still based on a 1937 lie?
That's the question most have as they read this article, as I wrote it - it was painfully overwhelming. Why would any US leader not yell for the people, "Our Citizens come first, right here, on US Soil." Don't get me wrong; I want to see everyone set free across the globe; ending prohibition today would be a great start; if they could write that resolution, they could write the same one that de-schedules the plant.