Joe Biden Has Been President for 299 Days and Cannabis is Still Not Federally Legal?
On the campaign trail, the Biden-Kamala train promised several reforms would be put in place for the cannabis industry. However, since the administration was sworn-in in January, many critics have accused the Biden team of failing to implement progressive changes in the industry. Almost a year later, cannabis is still a federally-banned substance, and the presidency has shown very little interest in changing the current situation.
Due to this, we decided to go under the radar to investigate the administration’s impact on cannabis from January to this moment. Surprisingly, we discovered that the president had indeed made good on some of its cannabis-related promises in its short time in office. Many said don’t expect cannabis legalization under President Biden in 2021.
A Look At Some Cannabis-related Strides Taken By the Biden Administration
Most of these strides have gone unnoticed, while a few have made the news. Here are the major accomplishments:
In-depth Research on Cannabis Plants
For many years, the absence of or limited research on cannabis plants has fueled negative misconceptions about the drug. It added significantly to the stigma associated with marijuana use in the early to late 1990s.
The prohibition of the substance across the country prevented scientists from carrying out useful research to test the drugs’ therapeutic effectiveness.
To maintain the prohibition on the drug, the federal government limited primary cannabis research to a small facility affiliated with the University of Mississippi. The monopoly on cannabis research made people unaware of the benefits of the drug. Even now, it is a major reason why details about some marijuana strains being sold in cannabis-legal states are limited.
The Biden Administration recently approved an infrastructure bill that includes a verbiage section that permits cannabis companies to become authorized federally for research purposes. This means the monopoly on cannabis research is gradually coming to an end. In a few days, the legislation will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation also requests that a report which includes details of the impacts of marijuana on impaired driving be released. The report is currently in possession of the transportation secretary, the attorney general, and the office of the health and human services secretary. If signed into law, the bill will secure the related date of the report for 24 months after the date it was passed.
It is common knowledge that cannabis businesses cannot procure the services of traditional banking establishments due to the federal prohibition of the drug. Several measures have even been drafted to propose that banking services be made accessible to cannabis entrepreneurs, but none has been passed. The first time medical marijuana was approved, about three decades ago, banks frowned upon cannabis-related businesses. Banks that wanted to have a working relationship with these households were threatened with strict sanctions. The federal government instilled fear in banking officials to ensure cannabis operations are left to fend for themselves. This is still the current trend of things, even in some cannabis-legal states.
In his short time in office, the Biden Administration has more or less created a framework that would allow marijuana entrepreneurs to get smooth access to banks. The SAFE Banking Act was recently passed with the National Defense Spending Act (NDAA). The Capitol Hill politicians who drafted the bill said that it is high time marijuana retailers overcome the financial obstacles hindering them from scaling up.
The Act is awaiting approval by the House before it will be sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The bill was first introduced in 2019 by Congressman Ed Perlmutter. He believed that legally operating marijuana businesses should have federal protection and be taxed.
Decriminalization of Cannabis
The Biden Administration might legalize cannabis before this tenure runs out. The team is making unannounced or underground moves to ensure things are in place for decriminalization. Although many would prefer to see the actions upfront, we can’t excuse the fact that many of these important decisions are going to have a massive impact on the country for several years. Whether or not the administration will kickstart full decriminalization, record expungement, or full legalization efforts in the coming months is still uncertain.
The administration has not announced any serious interest in declassifying marijuana from the Schedule 1 group. Many politicians in DC have expressed interest in providing good help to Congress when it’s finally time to decriminalize cannabis.
The MORE (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement) Act was reintroduced in the year’s second quarter. It passed in the House and was moved forward to the Senate (recall that it stalled in the Senate in December 2020).
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, an outspoken pro-cannabis advocate, introduced another bill called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. This proposed law would introduce regulations that would be used to impose a tax on all cannabis products produced in the country. To pass in the Senate, this bill will need to amass at least ten votes from Republican senators. Currently, there are about 50 votes secured from major Democrats and a few Republicans. Sixty votes are the accepted threshold for any bill to pass in the Senate.
Things in Store for 2022
The Biden Administration has many things planned for the cannabis industry in 2022. When the Senate reconvenes, multiple cannabis-related bills will be debated and, hopefully, passed. We might also see Congress debate legislation that could create pathways for the legal use of CBD products.
The Biden-Administration has many pro-cannabis politicians on board. Even though President Biden himself is not an ardent supporter of the cannabis industry, the country needs to legalize it soon so it won’t get left behind while other countries like Canada are doing exploits in the global cannabis industry.
It is obvious the administration is working on important issues in other sectors, especially the health sector, due to the pandemic. Still, it is high time the cannabis industry got something concrete from this administration. Medical cannabis legislation won’t be a bad start.
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