Many were excited at the end of 2020 with the historic vote for the passage of the MORE Act and many more are hopeful that President Biden will come through and ease up some of the stifling regulations that are hampering the cannabis industry. Well… I’m going to be the naysayer of the crowd and break it to you that the federal government will not adopt any great affection for cannabis in 2021.
There are so many other issues that will take priority over the legalization of cannabis while the country struggles to find its way out of its COVID blackhole. And while President Biden has said that he will decriminalize cannabis and look at the possibilities of medical cannabis, he never said that he would do that on Day One.
This is not an Executive Order action either. There are way too many hurdles for this plant to get across the president’s desk. In the halls of Congress, the most acceptable path for legalization is through medical cannabis. No member of Congress wants to deny a small child their epilepsy medicine or tell a wife that they won’t help stop the tremors of a husband with Parkinson’s. But even then, rigorous standards and regulations are going to need to be put in place by Congress and the FDA. And right now, they are a bit wrapped up.
Even with Republicans losing the Senate, it is still an uphill battle. Many are torn about how to prioritize cannabis over other pieces of legislation because it is still not seen as critical to the running of the country. This was quite evident when Republicans were blasting Democratic leaders for bringing the MORE Act to a vote on the House floor ahead of a Coronavirus stimulus package. The President’s number one priority for the next year is going to be COVID, COVID, COVID. And once he has a handle on the COVID crisis, then he will have to move on to restoring the economy which is no small feat.
And I know what you will say next, that passing cannabis will help the economy…. Yes, it will help, but I fear that leading on that front is going to have to come from the states. If people want to see the economies in their communities grow that comes from a local influence and not from the feds. The feds can work on things like the SAFE Banking Act to get rid of 280E, so companies can finally invest back into their communities and make it simpler for them to conduct business. But again, does Capitol Hill see that distinction? No, the ones who are still fighting the War on Drugs, see it as a vote promoting the devil weed.
Don’t expect that criticism to go away just because it’s not an election year. And don’t expect your lawmaker to grow a backbone either, especially with the highly contentious environment that the political arena has become. While the calls for unity are ringing now through the halls of Congress, expect that civility to not last long with the impending Impeachment Trial of former President Trump. The parties will circle back up and walls will go up on cannabis, simply because they cannot be seen putting it first.