When Will Marijuana Be Legal Federally?
While it remains unclear when marijuana will be legal federally, one thing is for sure: the United States Senate is not a happy camper about the current law. It’s a fact that many Americans are opposed to marijuana, but this is unlikely to stop them from supporting reform. In a recent Pew Research poll, ninety percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana. Moreover, a Gallup poll showed that two-thirds of all Americans would support legalizing marijuana on a federal level. medical marijuana card doctors manhasset ny northwell
Despite the reluctance of many to legalize cannabis, 19 states and the District of Columbia have already done so. In fact, Rhode Island’s Cannabis Act legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, and Connecticut’s SB 1201 will make it legal in the state starting July 1, 2021. The Virginia legislature has accepted the governor’s amendments to legalize marijuana and set up a commercial market. While legalization hasn’t been achieved nationwide, it will certainly bring more legalization to the state.
The broader benefits of legalization are obvious. It would eliminate conflicts between state and federal laws and allow states to set their own regulations. The federalization of marijuana could also unlock basic financing options, like conventional banks, U.S. exchanges, and loans for cannabis companies. Right now, cannabis businesses must pay high fees to banks that are “cannabis-friendly.” They must also deal exclusively in cash, since credit card companies refuse to process payments from dispensaries.
The current tax laws and enforcement efforts against marijuana have disproportionately affected people of color. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. spends upwards of $3.6 billion a year on the war on drugs. Meanwhile, the majority of the 600,000 annual arrests are of people of color. People of color are arrested four times more than their white counterparts. Whether or not marijuana is legal federally is still up for debate.
Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it is not legal to trade it across state lines. This is because interstate commerce is governed by the federal government. The U.S. Congress passed an amendment to the law in 2018 to allow for the sale and use of cannabis cigarettes and vaping products, and the new laws make marijuana legal in every state except for California. If marijuana becomes legal federally, the state laws are likely to follow suit.
In the meantime, there are competing bills in the Senate. A separate bill called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) would end federal prohibition of marijuana. If passed, this bill would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to access banking and other financial services. It was introduced last year by Rep. Nancy Mace and has bipartisan support. However, she voted against the MORE Act. The Senate will have to decide which bill to approve.
A bill to decriminalize marijuana in federal laws passed the House of Representatives last month. It did not pass the Senate, but House Democrats have a narrow majority. It is likely to pass this bill and other marijuana-related bills can follow. When will marijuana be legal federally? It’s important to remember that states are the laboratories of democracy. The conflict between marijuana and federal law has reached an untenable level.