This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

Don't Expect Congress to Move Quickly on Marijuana

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Currently, there are eleven different pieces of legislation related to marijuana. If Congress just removed marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance, several of these bills wouldn't even be necessary. The problem is that Congress has no desire to be the one to change the classification of marijuana. Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) said, "The pox is really on the house of Congress that's created this mess,"

However, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) said that just changing the schedule isn't the answer for everyone. He justified the various pieces of legislation. "We have a variety of different interests dealing with marijuana for medicinal use, for dealing with hemp, to its tax and banking consequences. So we've put on a full court press." He went on to say changing the schedule would simplify things, but that wouldn't happen very soon and in order to move forward they wanted a wide range of options.

Another pro pot politician, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) is also working to diminish marijuana prohibition. He cited the Shafer commission from the seventies that recommended decriminalization and suggested a new study. "Something for legislators who are afraid to act, something to fall back upon," he said. Cohen noted that most politicians don't want to come out until there's a majority in their party and that for Republicans, it might take a while. The Congressman noted that their constituents are generally against marijuana legalization. "It's going to be tough for Republicans to step out," he explained.

The Shafer commission Cohen referred to was established in 1970, when cannabis was placed in the category of controlled substances under schedule 1 drugs. This meant it had a high potential for abuse, no medicinal uses and was generally unsafe. However, it was considered to be a temporary status pending the study by the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, headed by Raymond Shafer, the former Governor of Pennsylvania. In 1972, the commission favored decriminalization, but President Nixon fought its recommendation.

In taped transcripts Nixon said, "I want a Goddamn strong statement on marijuana. I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them." He went on to say, "You know it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it's because most of them are psychiatrists, you know, there's so many, all the greatest psychiatrists are Jewish. By God we are going to hit the marijuana thing, and I want to hit it right square in the puss, I want to find a way of putting more on that."

Nixon's war on pot has been carried out ever since.

There are various ways for the schedule classification to be changed. Legislatively, Congress can do it. They have actively added drugs to the schedule 1 column. However, H.R. 689, which would allow for rescheduling, was introduced by Rep Blumenauer in 2013 and referred to a subcommittee where it has sat. Rep. Steve Cohen noted that the subcommittee is headed by Republicans, which is not a marijuana friendly group.

Another tactic the pro pot politicians tried was sending a letter to President Obama asking him to take action. There's been speculation that Obama might do that before he leaves office, but that won't be for another two years. The U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder could reschedule cannabis without an act of Congress, but Holder has already stepped forward with guidance on marijuana and doesn't seem to be inclined to take it any further. He doesn't want to be "that guy."

The next couple of layers are where things get messy. There are three different agencies that can initiate proceedings to change a drug's schedule, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) or an interested party like a medical association. The DEA collects its information, asks the HHS for a recommendation and then evaluates all the information to make a final decision as to whether it should initiate proceedings.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AAPL $128.46 0.00%
FB $78.97 0.00%
GOOG $558.40 0.00%
TSLA $203.34 0.00%
YHOO $44.28 0.00%

Markets

DOW 18,132.70 -81.72 -0.45%
S&P 500 2,104.50 -6.24 -0.30%
NASDAQ 4,963.5270 -24.3630 -0.49%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs