Joe Biden is the 46th President Elect of the United States. At the time of writing this post, Joe Biden got 290 of the 538 electoral college votes.
So, how does that change the fates of people associated with marijuana? It includes consumers, distributors, production farms and so on. Well, it changes a lot. Also, 5 new states legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the 2020 US presidential election.
Let’s update you on what’s happening.
Joe Biden and Marijuana Legalization
Now that the democratic party has taken over the White House, things are going to change regarding marijuana legalization. Maybe not instantly. But we can certainly hope for some good news over the next few years.
To understand how the win of Joe Biden helps marijuana legalization, we have to go a little bit back in time.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Joe Biden was one of the senators who were very vocal against the use of marijuana. He even contributed to passing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that dramatically raised the percentage of incarnation due to the association with marijuana.
At that time, Biden was the senator from Delaware and very vocal against marijuana, or any other drugs for that matter. Biden even took lead in some of the bills that called for a more aggressive approach towards people who are associated with the production and distribution of federally controlled substances, including marijuana.
But with time, his views have changed. If not 100%, his views have at least shifted. In 2010, Biden interviewed ABC News where stated, “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces and legalizing it. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe marijuana is a gateway drug.”
A decade later, in 2020, marijuana enthusiasts were rooting for Joe Biden to win. But why?
Joe Biden and His Current Values
The perspectives Mr. Biden held 30 years ago are not the same as now. Things have changed quite a bit since his 2010 interview as well. With time, he has come to an understanding that American Citizens want recreational marijuana to be legalized.
And to better reflect the interest of the fellow Americans, Joe Biden is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. According to him, no one should go to jail for smoking marijuana.
But there is a difference between decriminalizing and legalizing. While the laws and punishments might go away, marijuana still remains a Schedule I substance which is highly illegal at the federal level.
The previous acts by the newly elected president have caused their fair bit of discrepancies against the low-income community and people of color. The current proposition looks forward to undoing those inequities.
Possession and use of marijuana are a federal crime and punishable by law. It being a schedule I substance, anyone related to marijuana consumption or distribution becomes a criminal. But Biden’s current proposal states that the drug would be moved to a Schedule II substance.
The difference between a Schedule I and Schedule II substance is that Substance II drugs are acceptable for medical usage. Although it will still be a high propensity for abuse and require oversight, the revision of the law is a huge leap forward for the upcoming days of marijuana legalization.
The Future of Legalization Under Biden Administration
Now that Mr. Joe Biden is the 46th president elect of the United States, what does it bring on the table for the marijuana enthusiasts?
One thing for sure and that would be Cannabis Banking Reform. It basically paves the way for marijuana-related businesses to seek aid from financial institutions like a regular business.
As US states have their own law regarding marijuana, many of those states have legalized both medical and recreational use of marijuana. But it’s an illegal substance at the federal level, so the financial institutions were hesitant to provide any kind of support to those businesses. All of this is about change.
Almost two-thirds of the states have legalized marijuana in some form. Medical use has become fairly common across the state and recreational use is making its way out into the wild. Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, New Jersey, and Mississippi voted for the recreational use of marijuana this year.
While all of this looks very promising and joyful, there is another side to the coin. All this time, marijuana was federally illegal and a Schedule I substance. Schedule I substances don’t have any medical benefits.
But as the law gets reformed and marijuana becomes a Schedule II substance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will start its trials for medical benefits. As we all know, the FDA is a very strict body concerned with human health and safety.
With that being said, marijuana could be the next big thing on the FDA’s radar and they are very much likely to impose mandatory restrictions on the usage of marijuana. Such an act has the potential to impact the entire state.
The current medical use of marijuana is not backed by any scientific data. When the FDA starts the trial, there may or may not be any health benefits found to marijuana.
Whatever the case will become, the days of stigma regarding marijuana usage might be over. With Joe Biden as president, we can surely hope to see some major changes in the marijuana legalization landscape, just like we saw during Obama Administration.
The New 5 States that Legalized Marijuana
This year’s election has seen five news states that legalized recreational use of marijuana. While Washington and Colorado started the trend way back in 2012, many other states followed them over the years.
Let’s take a short look at the states that newly became marijuana-friendly.
The beautiful garden state. After a few consecutive years of failure to move the marijuana legalization bill forward, New Jersey finally voted in favor of the recreational use of marijuana. It’s the first state in the mid-Atlantic that managed to pass such a bill.
Public Question 1 passed with a 67% to 33% margin. It’s a massive win for the recreational use of marijuana. While the medical use of marijuana has been common in New Jersey since 2010, recreational use was still far away.
With the ballot question passing this year, recreational marijuana could be legalized as early as January 2021. It’s up to the officials of New Jersey to begin the legislative process of regulating, testing, and distributing the marijuana landscape.
The public question that got passed this year calls for a 6.625% state tax on sales of marijuana products. The customers must be at least 21 years old. The question also allowed the municipalities to impose an extra 2% tax.
That’s about it for Public Question 1. The rest now depends on the Legislature of New Jersey and a cannabis regulatory commission that consists of 5 members.
The probability of higher tax revenue and more job opportunities are two major factors that will work as a motivator for the officials. Currently, the state is struggling with the economic conditions during the pandemic.
State Senator Nicholas Scutari has been in favor of marijuana legalization for quite some time now. He is very enthusiastic about moving the bill immediately and it will allow the existing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell to the public.
Similar to New Jersey, Arizona voters also legalized recreational marijuana use for this year’s election. Proposition 207 allows people over 21 to carry, consume, and possess marijuana. The quantity, however, cannot go over 1 ounce. The proposition also calls for regulatory legislation to control the use of the substance.
Proposition 207 won by a 60% to 40% ratio which is a pretty big win. A similar endeavor was also initiated in 2016, but that failed for only 3 points. But not this time. The polling result has been consistent which shows that the voters want recreational marijuana to be legalized.
The advocates who have been working on this proposition credited the modified ballot question. The new and improved legislation got huge support because it addresses prior convictions and decriminalizes the convicts. Also, there is a provision that aids home growers as well.
Among politicians, there are different opinions. The Republican governor Doug Ducey is against the legalization. According to him, he doesn’t want the expansion of marijuana use that comes with legalization.
On the other hand, Julie Gunnigle, who is the democratic candidate to become a county attorney for Maricopa, is in favor of the legalization. According to her, Arizona could be the state that motivates other states to legalize recreational marijuana.
Initiative 190 is the signature legislation for Montana to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. It indicates that the adults in the state can buy and possess marijuana will impose a 20% state tax. It also decriminalizes marijuana convictions. The existing convicts can apply for a resentencing and expunge previous records.
There is a second question known as Initiative 118 that amends the constitution of Montana and make 21 the legal for purchase, consumption, and possession of recreational marijuana.
The ballot happened in June where the officials and organizers collected 76,400 required sings. The state was at a stay-at-home order due to the pandemic. As soon as the order was omitted at the end of April, organizers got to action.
The signature collection process was relaunched with health protocols to protect the volunteers against the pandemic. It included hand sanitizers, temperature checking, and social distancing. It was made sure by Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. He is also one of the leading figures for Montana and South Dakota ballots.
Initiative 190 to legalize marijuana won by a 56.9% to 43.1% margin. It’s a pretty big win considering the medical aspect of marijuana use in Montana. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same state that legalized medical marijuana in 2004.
South Dakota was one of those states that didn’t want anything to do with marijuana. Whether it was for medicinal use or recreational, both were illegal in this state. But all changes with this year’s ballot initiative.
South Dakota has two measures for the ballot. Measure 26 established marijuana as medical help. It also asks for a registration system that allows people with the actual conditions to apply for medical marijuana.
On the other hand, Amendment A is the measure to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It will only apply to adults.
South Dakota is the only state to go through the process of legalization at once. Usually, it’s a long-term process that states go through over a few years. The first step is decriminalizing marijuana association. Then comes medical marijuana legalization followed by recreational use. But South Dakota went all in.
The current legislation for marijuana association is quite harsh in South Dakota. Republic Governor Kristi Noem was against both ballots and in favor of retaining the current state. According to Noem, the pot is never going to improve the community.
However, the general people of South Dakota disagree. The 54.2% to 45.8% win for Amendment A says it all.
Mississippi is the fifth state going for marijuana legalization. At this moment, it’s only going for medical marijuana legalization with two amendments: Amendment 65A and amendment 65. Amendment 65A is more restrictive than the amendment 65.
Amendment 65 states that physicians can recommend cannabis to patients who qualify for the listed 22 conditions. Such conditions include multiple sclerosis, cancer, and PTSD. The businesses will be allowed to grow and market medical cannabis and a tax of 7% would be imposed on sales.
With Joe Biden as president, the entire landscape of marijuana legalization is about to change. Although the president needs a majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, it’s still going to be in favor of marijuana enthusiasts.
With the five states going for marijuana legalization in this year’s ballot initiatives, we can say that other states will follow soon enough. The substance might still be a controlled one at the federal level, but with states legalizing it on their own, it might not be far when marijuana gets completely legalized.