At the moment, 36 states have legalized medical cannabis while 16 states allow recreational cannabis, showing that a majority of Americans support cannabis decriminalization. Although both New York and Virginia had legalized recreational cannabis by the end of March, it was the news that the Southern state had finally allowed adult-use marijuana that illustrated just how much the tide had changed in cannabis’ favor. With the Democratic Party in control of both the House and Senate and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gunning for federal legalization, the chances that we will soon see a federal cannabis legalization bill are pretty high.
In early April, Schumer made it clear that even though he would appreciate having President Biden’s support, the Senate would move forward with a cannabis bill whether the president was on board or not. Although Biden has said he is more than okay with legalizing medical marijuana and expunging prior cannabis-related offenses from records, he does not support the broad cannabis legalization the Senate Majority leader is after. While Schumer is now an outspoken advocate for cannabis reform, he wasn’t always a supporter, having been against cannabis legalization in the early 2000s.
After seeing how much a legal cannabis market benefited the city of Denver, Schumer’s views on cannabis started changing, and he believes Biden’s views can change as well. New York, which recently legalized recreational cannabis, is poised to earn about $350 million in tax revenue. Virginia, which is the first state in the South to legalize recreational cannabis, will allow residents to possess up to an ounce of cannabis starting July. However, licensed businesses won’t be able to sell cannabis until 2024.
Looking to expedite the state’s cannabis legalization plans, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has said that decriminalizing the controversial drug will strike a blow to the social inequality caused by restrictive cannabis legislation coupled with aggressive policing. Northam even pointed out that in Virginia, Black residents are three times as likely to face arrest for cannabis possession as compared to white residents, even if they have generally similar usage rates.
According to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, convincing more conservative Democrats such as President Biden that legalizing cannabis will have a plethora of benefits, including righting many of the harms done by the failed war on drugs, will take some work. Schumer has stated that both he and many other advocates will make their arguments to Biden but should the president fail to offer his support, Schumer will move forward with the federal legalization bill he has been working on with Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden and Senator Cory Booker.
If the federal government eventually reforms its marijuana policies to reflect the reality in most states across the nation, lots of companies in the sector, including Grapefruit USA Inc. (OTCQB: GPFT), may heave a sigh of relief as many of their challenges associated with conflicting federal and state laws will end.
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