Change Comes To The Cannabis Industry: How Biden’s Recent Reform Statements Could Reshape Business For The Better
The cannabis industry got some big news recently when President Joe Biden announced steps to begin overhauling cannabis laws, reviewing its classification as a Schedule 1 drug, pardoning anyone incarcerated for possession at the federal level, and encouraging governors to do the same at a state level.
In a statement released by the White House on October 6, the President outlined his stance that existing policies are not working, have unfairly impacted convicted individuals, and that current drug classifications are in need of further review.
“Federal law currently classifies marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the classification meant for the most dangerous substances,” Biden’s statement reads. “This is the same schedule as for heroin and LSD, and even higher than the classification of fentanyl and methamphetamine – the drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic.”
Although it remains to be seen how this process will play out nationwide, many experts expect that changes are underway to reshape federal policy and pave the way for legalization, and legitimizing the cannabis industry as a whole.
In order to further understand why this news is significant, it's worth noting that cannabis has been considered a Schedule 1 substance since 1970, when the Federal government designated it as having no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.
Nearly 40 years later, passage of the 2018 Farm Bill signaled a slight shift, legislating legalization of hemp-derived products – including CBD and products containing less that 0.3 percent THC. However, this is still a far cry from early American laws, which deemed cannabis as being completely legal and acceptable for medical use between 1840 and 1900.
Going forward there is still a lot of work to be done to reverse cannabis prohibition, however, progress is on the table with related legislation in the works. For example, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act introduced into the Senate earlier this year, is a bill aimed at delisting cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. If passed, the bill would additionally enable banking reform, criminal justice reform, and automatic expungement of federal records for nonviolent cannabis crimes.
Lastly, for brands that retail CBD, updating the current laws has the potential to change the landscape of doing business and benefit the entire industry. As the administration moves towards declassifying cannabis, we will likely experience more freedom to market hemp-derived products, access banking services, and expand operations without the heavy regulations currently hindering many enterprises.
Although it’s not a perfect solution, many in the industry see this as a win, and a step in the right direction.
As the president’s own missive asserts: “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrong