Inbox: Parabola Center Presents Plan To Federally Legalize Marijuana

Focused on interstate commerce, new report shows “how to federally legalize cannabis without violating the Constitution or undermining equity and justice”

When we heard from the Parabola Center for Law and Policy in April, the nonprofit think tank had just released its toolkit to proactively fight cannabis monopolies at the national level.

As Parabola put it, “The national monopolization of cannabis is a big issue to tackle, but it’s easier to prevent it from happening in the first place than it is to fix it after the fact.”

And when we last saw Shaleen Title, the CEO of the Parabola Center and a longtime advocate who served on the Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020, she was warning against potential pitfalls around changing the federal schedule status of marijuana.

“It’s a political half-cocked unexamined idea that looks like it might be good, [and] that it might placate and pacify the cannabis community and get some votes before an election,” Title said in her keynote speech at the HighLifeStyle Show in September. “But the consequences of it to all of us have not been looked at.”

Now, Parabola’s ideas and concerns are getting streamlined. This week, the think tank released a new report, “How to Federally Legalize Cannabis Without Violating the Constitution or Undermining Equity and Justice,” which outlines “concerns that federal marijuana legalization would wipe out current state markets and replace them with a national monopoly.” Per the center, the “report provides a blueprint for Congress to protect the almost 10,000 small businesses that make up most of the legal market in states and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide.”

“Excitement for federal legalization is mounting because state programs have led to good jobs and a lot of progress toward our goals of equity and justice,” Title said in a media statement. “But flipping a switch to federally legalize marijuana would end all of that progress. Gradual implementation that protects small businesses and workers is the fairest option for everyone.”

Their “Blueprint for Congress” includes “three constitutional policy solutions and model language that would protect states’ efforts toward equity and justice, and preserve the progress these states have already made in those areas” by:

  • Explicitly allowing existing state cannabis laws to operate as designed and without disruption;

  • Allowing bona-fide social equity businesses, small businesses, and worker-owned businesses to engage in interstate commerce first; and 

  • Limiting harmful impact by large corporations by preventing excessive consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and establishing anti-monopoly provisions.

The report is authored by Tamar Todd, an attorney with experience in drug policy who serves as a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she teaches a course on cannabis law and policy.

“These recommendations for Congressional cannabis law reform will protect cannabis regulatory programs aimed at supporting small businesses and their employees; advancing labor protections; generating good, well-paying jobs; and creating access to the industry by those who were most harmed by cannabis prohibition and the War on Drugs,” according to Parabola.

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