Cannabis Industry In U.S. Laments Lack Of Federal Progress

Optimism following 2020 elections has waned after more than a full year without meaningful legislation
Written by 
Chris Kudialis, CBD and Cannabis Reporter.
|Last Updated:

We all crossed our fingers that a Joe Biden presidency together with a Democrat-controlled House and Senate would spell the end of cannabis prohibition in the United States. It looked to be the industry’s best option back during the 2020 elections, compared to other the other candidates on the ballot. But so far, what once looked like the perfect political structure for cannabis has resulted in minimal progress for the plant.

Discrepancies between the 36 states allowing medical marijuana, the 18 states allowing recreational cannabis and the feds has created endless roadblocks for legal businesses that abide by local regulations.

Prohibition has affected how cannabis companies bank, distribute products and pay taxes, among other vital business transactions. Any change in the law – even decriminalization, or rescheduling cannabis from its status a Schedule I substance with ‘no recognized medical value’ – would be help cannabis stock prices to soar while allowing legal businesses to produce billions more in annual tax revenue.

We’ve heard the promises loud and clear. Last year, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged federal action would be taken to at least take the plant off the Schedule 1 list of banned drugs by April 20, 2022. Fellow Democrat U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has long offered lip service for full legalization. Even a proposal from Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina revitalized hope for some sort of movement late last year.

For all practical purposes, though, national legalization in the near future looks to be a lost cause. And now, advocates are speaking out.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Narmin Jarrous, chief development officer of Michigan-based Exclusive Brands in an interview with NBC News. “We can make excuses for why things don’t get done, but that doesn’t help the people in prison or the people who are continuously being affected by the war on drugs.”

“It’s easy to get frustrated by the slow pace of change,” added Erik Altieri, executive director of national advocacy group NORML. “But it’s important to look at those thread marks where this is still moving forward.”

Kevin Sabet, an Obama-era drug policy adviser and the current president of prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said the regulatory climate mirrors Biden’s personal ambivalence toward the plant.

Biden took a measured tone on cannabis during his 2020 campaign, focusing on the racial and criminal justice angles of potentially rescheduling the plant. Within two months of taking office, though, Biden’s administration fired five White House staffers for using marijuana.


Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
CBD and Cannabis Reporter
Chris Kudialis is the mainstream media’s authority on marijuana and CBD news coverage in Las Vegas. Chris began covering the beat as a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, when cannabis had been medical-only for almost two years and the first dispensaries were just opening.

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