Two New Members Of The National Cannabis Roundtable

If you need convincing that the winds of change are in the air for federal marijuana legalization, look no further than new appointees to the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR).

On Thursday, the major group representing the marijuana industry inducted two new members: former Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and former Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

Neither Gardner, not Cole is the usual suspect for such a committee, yet both are taking an advisory role within the NCR.  It’s expected they will advocate for cannabis reform on the federal level.

The Backstory on Gardner and Cole

Cory Gardner became known during his senate run (2015-2021) as a right-wing marijuana advocate. He was a sponsor of reform legislation before losing his seat in the 2020 election, which among other items, protected states’ rights to determine their own policies on marijuana.

Gardner has said that marijuana is an issue that defies party lines. Using his state of Colorado as an example, he points to the health, social, and economic benefits it has provided to the states.

“To fully capture this benefit, we must have real reform at the federal level,” he says. “I look forward to working alongside the thoughtful group of leaders that NCR has brought together to affect meaningful change.”

James Cole has been an advocate for some time, having issued a memorable memo as Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ. In this memo, he stated that federal prosecutors should avoid prosecuting people who were acting in compliance with the laws of their state. This guidance was reversed by the subsequent Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and still has not been reinstated under Biden.

Cole wrote in a press release that, despite complications stemming from the discrepancy between federal and state laws, there are ways to support the burgeoning cannabis economy. He also said that reform would help those affected by cannabis laws.

More Familiar Faces on the NCR Board

The NCR will keep three goals in focus: supporting the growth of the marijuana industry, protecting consumers, and promoting social equality. To do so, it has recruited some unexpected board members.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is John Boehner (R-OH), former GOP Speaker of the House and staunch opponent of legalization during his time in office. Boehner is now an honorary board member and supports cannabis policy reform.

Kathleen Sebelius, who served as Governor of Kansas from 2003-2009 and as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2009-2014, is another honorary member. Both she and Boehner have received criticisms for not advocating meaningfully for marijuana during their time in office, but both appear to have had a change of heart.

A Larger Trend in Cannabis Legalization

Shows of support for cannabis legalization are becoming the status quo even among governmental agencies like the DEA (who proposed an increase in marijuana production last month). Other politicians have made their way into the world of cannabis legalization as well. In the business world, Red While & Bloom Brands Inc. has announced the onboarding of Republican Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, who will help the company navigate a complex regulatory environment.

There are other examples of Republican lawmakers taking up cannabis after their time in office. But Costello stands out as one of the few who supported marijuana policy reform while in office — notably before he had a financial stake in the game. He was a co-sponsor of several bills and supported several amendments to the policy.

Dana Rohrabacher is another GOP congressman whose post-office cannabis stance aligns with his voting record. He served as a Representative for California until 2018 and supported cannabis reform throughout his time in Congress. Today he serves on a marijuana company’s advisory board.

The former head of Health and Human Services under Trump, Tom Price, has also made the transition to cannabis. Although he declined to reschedule cannabis while in office — and repeatedly voted against reform while in Congress — he has since joined the board of directors for a private medical marijuana business.

Steve Buyer, a former Republican state representative from Indiana, is on the board of a Canadian cannabis company as of 2019. He also spent his years in office opposing marijuana reform.

Alfonse D’Amato, a former Republican U.S. Senator, now heads a lobbying firm that advocates on behalf of cannabis businesses. During his time in Congress, D’Amato was a staunch supporter of the War on Drugs.

There certainly appears to be a change in the air when it comes to marijuana. Pay attention not only to champions of legalization in Congress — watch its opponents to see what actions they take in the coming years as pot becomes more mainstream.

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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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