Senate Finance Chairman optimistic on cannabis reforms

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Senator Ron Ryden believes lawmakers may be able to advance some type of cannabis reform

Optimism in some of the country’s major chambers has many marijuana advocates expecting big changes in the industry in the coming months. While it is certainly a challenge for a key US Senator to pass a far-reaching legalization bill he is sponsoring, there are some key reforms he is hopeful will be enacted this session. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden has worked day and night to effect major change in the industry and hopes that some of those efforts will bear fruit in the future.

Last month, Wyden, in the company of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Cory Booker, introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). Since then, the issue has been on the lips of many top lawmakers across the country. These three sponsors are clear that getting the Senate to pass the legalization bill is an ambitious and even impossible goal. At least 60 votes are needed for that to happen and that is what has many thinking.

While Wyden has not been as vocal on the issue as Booker and Schumer, the senator tempered expectations about CAO’s outlook during a statement to The American Prospect released yesterday. He said, “A 50-50 [Democratic] majority in the Senate will make passing our bill a difficult feat, but I hope we can at minimum pass some key reforms this Congress.”

The Senator also said the measure empowers states to make their own decisions while addressing the many problems the current ban is causing in the country, such as research and banking. While Democrats have been more open on the issue, it remains in doubt that all 50 will join the bold reform, not to mention the concerted opposition it would likely face from the Republican side of the aisle.