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Cannabis has been one of the primary issues in the 2020 Presidential elections. While the counting of votes went on, people were not only looking forward to overtaking the current Republican President but also causing reform by opening doors for marijuana legalization.
And with Joe Biden becoming the President-elect, both the instances seem to be coming true. There is hope for cannabis consumers who have waited patiently for years to see cannabis become a legally accessible herb. Until now, cannabis has seen legalization and decriminalization at the State level only. Federally, the green herb was still illegal and even led to the incarceration of hundreds of innocent people for possession of adult-use cannabis.
So, with Joe Biden’s presidency, are there any chances of cannabis legalization at the federal level? Will there be a reform or will we have to continue living with the same legislation? Well, honestly, the chances for both outcomes are pretty equal.
Let’s take the look at the effect of the new Presidency on cannabis legalization.
For all those who have been keeping up with the political landscape for a long time, it may not be a surprise hearing that our current President-elect presented a stern opposition to reform in the field of cannabis. That’s right. For a long time, Joe Biden was the only Democrat who opposed the legalization of cannabis.
In fact, he was one of the primary Senators who had a great contribution towards writing the ‘Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 1994’, most popularly known as the ‘1994 Crime Bill’. To this day, it has led the foundations for mass incarceration of people in the country for simply using or possessing recreational drugs including cannabis. It’s also one of the many attacks that President Trump hurled towards Biden during the presidential debates.
Sounds like a dark time for cannabis legalization in 2021? Not really.
It seems that Joe Biden has turned a new leaf. Seeing that as many as 67 percent of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, Biden has been in full support of federally decriminalizing cannabis since 2019. In fact, he calls his ‘Crime Bill’ a “mistake’ and hopes to make the right reforms.
“Nobody should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana.” - Joe Biden
Biden ensures to focus on eliminating the prison sentence for recreational cannabis and substituting it for rehabilitation and drug courts instead. He hopes to make this possible by proposing the removal of cannabis from the Schedule 1 and 2 categories. However, the important factor to remember here is that his proposal aims at decriminalizing cannabis. As for legalization, his stance still seems to be unclear.
Just like Joe Biden, his Vice President-elect Kamala Harris used to oppose marijuana legalization too. In fact, she was known to be the ‘top cop’ and had as many as 1500 people prisoned for marijuana-related offenses.
But, yet again, we see a person in power take a 180° turn and get on track with the progressing society. Today, Harris is one of the primary voices for marijuana legalization. She stood up against the Republican government not accounting for the state-run cannabis dispensaries in the COVID-19 relief fund and proposed changing this aspect during their time in power.
Unlike Biden, Harris is more vocal about supporting not just cannabis decriminalization but also legalizing it at the federal level. She also shows interest in persuading Joe Biden in changing his stance in terms of cannabis legalization.
One of the revolutionary steps in the marijuana space has been the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act or the MORE Act. And guess who is the flagbearer of this act? It’s none other than the current Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. It was approved by a congressional vote in 2019 and awaited a floor vote in the House.
The good news is that on 4th December 2020, the House of Representatives passed the MORE act by a floor vote of 228-164. This step will forever be marked as historical in the journey of marijuana legalization. Now, the only step left is for the MORE Act to pass in the Senate.
Even though the MORE Act has gotten closer to fulfillment, the only obstacle now is the Senate. Even after Joe Biden’s win, the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate. They are headed by Mitch McConnel who strongly opposes cannabis reforms. So, it is only with a matter of time that we will be able to see if he proves to be an obstacle in the reform or give in to the pressure of Democrats.
So, in short, the scope for cannabis looks bright with all the right and powerful people supporting what the majority of US citizens have been wanting for a long time. The struggle has been tough and long, but with the new government in power, you can hope for good changes and reforms to happen over time. So, if you have been considering getting your 420 Evaluations this year, it can prove to be a beneficial step for you considering the supporters of cannabis in the upcoming US government.