Six months into the Biden Administration and with a Democrat-controlled congress, full federal legalization is not the most likely next step on the cannabis reform train, according to the responses to an online poll carried out by the Cannigma.
The poll of mostly cannabis industry insiders who follow The Cannigma or its employees was carried out on LinkedIn in the first week of July. (Important note: This was not a scientific poll, is not a representative sample of cannabis industry insiders, and the results should be treated primarily as food for thought and perhaps direction for further opinion research.)
Of the 111 votes that came in, 31% of respondents said that they believe “full legalization” is the most likely next step to be taken on federal cannabis reform in the United States.
The other three options — re/descheduling, movement on cannabis banking regulations, and “nope, it’s not happening” — each received 23% of the votes, for a combined 69% of respondents who think full legalization may have to wait its turn behind more incremental reforms.
Joe Biden’s win in the November 2020 presidential election and Democratic taking control of both houses of Congress sparked hopes that federal legalization could become a reality in the near future.
There may be some reason for optimism.
In December, 2020, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment Expungement (MORE) act, which removes cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, sets up a framework for clearing federal cannabis convictions, and ends criminal penalties for people who manufacture, distribute, or process cannabis.
The act won’t become law unless it is approved by the US Senate, which currently has a Democratic majority — and a majority leader who has become one of the most unexpected advocates of cannabis legalization.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said that he is determined to end cannabis prohibition. He is also on record saying that he’s aiming high, pledging as recently as May, 2021 that he won’t allow more modest reforms to move forward before broader legalization measures.
“We’re not going to bargain against ourselves,” Schumer said on The Ringer, when asked if he was waiting with cannabis banking legislation in order to advance more comprehensive cannabis legislation.
Schumer was expected to release the first version of his cannabis legalization bill on July 13, 2021.
The Biden White House, however, has not expressed support for full legalization and it is not clear whether he would sign a legalization bill, should one be passed by Congress.
In the meantime, even if there are more pressing issues on the agenda of the Biden Administration and the US Congress, supporters of cannabis legalization have more reason to be hopeful than ever before.
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