The 5 Federal Marijuana Bills Most Likely to Be Enacted Into Law in the Near Future

Despite serious federal marijuana reform remaining elusive, it appears closer than ever. These bills in the US Congress are some of the most viable options for change.

In 2022 President Biden signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act into law, which was designed to streamline marijuana research and remove certain bureaucratic hurdles. In 2024, this remains the only standalone federal marijuana bill to ever be signed into law.

Despite no further marijuana measures being enacted since 2022, a few bills have seen some significant movement and support in recent months, and appear closer than ever to reaching a tipping point of having enough support to be passed through Congress.

That being said, below are the five federal marijuana bills most likely to be enacted into law in the near future:

The SAFE/SAFER Banking Act

The SAFE Banking Act gained eight new sponsors in March, bringing the total to 112. Prior to the recent additions, the measure already had more sponsors than any other marijuana-related bill in the US Congress. In the Senate, the updated SAFER Banking Act (filed five months later in September) has 36 sponsors, representing 36% of the entire chamber.

Although they differ slightly, both measures would allow banks and other financial institutions to provide banking services to marijuana businesses that are legal under their state’s laws, allowing them to move away from a dangerous cash-only model.

In September the SAFER Banking Act was passed through the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with bipartisan support. Earlier this month Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it’s a key priority of the Senate to pass the SAFER Banking Act this year.

According to polling released recently, “by a greater than a 3-to-1 margin (63% support vs. 17% oppose) U.S. adults support Congress passing legislation that allows cannabis businesses to access banking services and financial products like checking accounts and business loans in states where cannabis is now legal”.

The SAFE and SAFER Banking Acts has the support of the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as a bipartisan group of 22 attorneys general.

The STATES 2.0 Act

The STATES 2.0 Act, filed in December by a bipartisan coalition of five congressmembers led by Republican Dave Joyce, now has 10 sponsors. The proposed law would amend the Controlled Substances so that those acting in compliance with state marijuana laws would no longer be committing a federal crime, and it would allow commerce between legal marijuana states and tribes

The measure would also amend an IRS law (section 280E) that prohibits businesses from taking tax deductions if they run a federally illegal business, even if the business is properly following their state’s laws. This would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to take standard tax deductions.

The STATES 2.0 Act’s bipartisan support, and its relatively moderate approach that allows states to decide their own marijuana laws without forcing federal legalization or even decriminalization, makes it a prime candidate to receive enough support to break the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster. It’s unclear if House Speaker Mike Johnson would be willing to put the measure to a vote, but it’s likely a Democratic leader would, if Democrats take over the House in the November election.

The Veterans Equal Access Act

The Veterans Equal Access Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow physicians to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, and recommend it if they deem it appropriate. The measure has 29 sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Under current law, physicians at the VA are prohibited from discussing marijuana with their patients, and veterans who receive care from VA facilities cannot receive the forms required to participate in medical marijuana programs – regardless of whether the state they reside in has legalized it for medical use. H.R. 2431 would change this by providing federal protection to VA doctors who discuss and recommend medical cannabis.

In November, by a vote of 82 to 15, the full United States Senate gave approval to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies spending bill, which included a provision put forth by Senator Jeff Merkley (D) that would allow doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs to legally recommend marijuana to their patients, indicating the move has strong bipartisan support.

According to polling released recently, 79% of veterans want federal law to be amended so that Veterans Affairs doctors are legally authorized to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.

The MORE Act

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove marijuana as a federal controlled substance, decriminalizing it nationwide. Filed in September with 34 sponsors, the measure now has 87, more than any marijuana-related bill other than the SAFE Banking Act.

In addition to descheduling marijuana, the MORE Act place a 5% federal excise tax on marijuana sales in states where its legal for the first two years, with it increasing to 8% by the fifth year. It would also allow those with marijuana convictions to have them expunged from their record, while protecting marijuana users from being denied public benefits.

Representative Nadler has described the MORE Act as “one of the most comprehensive marijuana reform bills ever introduced in the U.S. Congress”.

Despite nearing 100 sponsors, the measure has no Republican support in the House, making its current path forward difficult. However, if Democrats do take control of the House in November, it’s expected that passing the MORE Act will be one of their primary goals in 2025.

The RESPECT Resolution

The RESPECT Resolution (H.R. 960), filed in January by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), urges action “to increase equity within cannabis policy and the legal cannabis marketplace”.

According to Rep. Lee, the resolution “aims to elevate the importance of equity within the legal cannabis marketplace, address disparities and proactively address and repair the most egregious effects of the War on Drugs on communities of color””

Lee states that “Any legislation Congress puts forth on cannabis must incorporate both economic and reparative justice. This bill ensures that disenfranchised communities will be able to benefit equally in the emerging legal and regulated industry.”

The resolution would not change federal law, but its passage would go a long way towards legitimizing state-level marijuana laws, while working to ensure equity within the market.

 

For a look at the 10 states next in line to legalize marijuana, click here.

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