The Journey to Legalizing Cannabis Nationwide

the cannabis leaf and judge gavel

With cannabis legal in some form in more than half the states, it seems that legalizing cannabis at the federal level is around the corner. We have our fingers crossed (around a joint)! To keep you up to date with what’s going on around the topic of cannabis federal legalization, we’ll give you an overview of the latest progress. But, before we start, let’s take a look at exactly why nationwide cannabis legalization makes sense.

Benefits of Legalizing Cannabis

First, the benefits of the economy would be tremendous. According to New Frontier Data, federally legal cannabis could generate up to $105.6 billion in federal tax revenue by 2025. And the taxes from cannabis sales can be used to serve communities affected by the war on drugs, supporting restorative justice. Second, the fast-growing cannabis industry can generate jobs. Talent would be required to cultivate, process, distribute, and sell cannabis products. Additionally, there would be plenty of opportunities for secondary industries that support legal cannabis, including financing services and software developers. Third, the federal legalization of cannabis can help promote consumer safety and standardize cannabis testing. The nation can give cannabis the research attention it needs to unlock its full potential. 

Federal Legalization Backed by Other Industries

The federal legalization of cannabis has plenty of support from big names outside of the cannabis industry. Big tobacco is interested in collaborating with cannabis, as well as beverage companies like Jones Soda, which is planning its entry into cannabis drinks and edibles. Also, Dale’s Pale Ale, a company that revolutionized canned beers, has lined up with a premier cannabis organization. However, the biggest company by far that has expressed its support for cannabis is Amazon. The e-commerce juggernaut announced that it would stop testing most of its employees for cannabis. Not to mention, Amazon will back “issues related to the Equality Act (H.R. 5 / S. 393), the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280), and marijuana reform, including the MORE Act of 2021 (H.R. 3617).” Also, billionaire Charles Koch is putting up $25 million to support criminal justice reform and cannabis legalization by the end of 2021. As cannabis collaborates with established industries and gains support from premier companies and figures, federal legalization of cannabis seems inevitable. 

Highlights from Chuck Schumer’s Reform Bill

The long-awaited draft of the 163-page bill entitled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is finally here. So what would the bill do? The bill would remove cannabis from the federal schedule of controlled substances, remove the DEA from the cannabis law enforcement business, set the agencies regulating the execution of federal cannabis laws, and prevent federal officials from discriminating against anyone using cannabis within their legal rights. Additionally, it would create an Opportunity Trust Fund within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs and a Cannabis Opportunity Program within the Small Business Administration.

The bill would also address cannabis research and restorative justice, aiming to reverse the effects of the war on drugs. It would define the individuals eligible for federal cannabis equity opportunities and create three grant programs to support the financially deprived. Furthermore, it would expunge non-violent federal cannabis criminal records. And, it would also reinforce cannabis research in terms of its impacts on the brain and mental health, so we can discover its full potential. Check out more highlights from the US Senate marijuana reform bill

Suggestions for the Reform Bill

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to how federal legalization of cannabis should happen. With many supporters for the first draft of the reform bill, there are plenty of critics as well. Pablo Zuanic, Wall Street Analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, had some suggestions, including reducing the cannabis possession limit from 10 pounds to 20 ounces, getting rid of the inter-state trade proposal, and giving judges the power to make case-by-case decisions concerning resentencing and expungement. Smart Approaches to Marijuana–a prohibitionist organization–suggested a 15% cap on cannabis potency, severe limits on advertisements, and exclusion of influence from alcohol and tobacco industries. Sponsors have stated they are open to any suggestions. Parties are encouraged to submit their thoughts to [email protected] by September 1. 

According to the Pew Research Center, 91% of US adults believe cannabis should be legal in some form. Are we closing in on legalizing cannabis at the federal level? It seems as though we’re on our way.

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