US Cannabis Legalization in 2020: Highly Unlikely

Politics News - 2020

Although the House Judiciary Committee took the first step towards legalizing cannabis on a federal level in the US, smoking weed across state borders is not quite possible yet.

Here are the reasons why:

The Senate is majority-controlled by Republicans 

Numerous surveys have shown time and time again that Republicans do not look favorably on cannabis legalization. According to a Gallup poll, 76% of Democrats were in favor of federal cannabis legalization, as opposed to 51% of Republicans.

This is not to say that some members of the GOP still retain some of their, shall we say, old-fashioned attitude towards cannabis (ahem, Just Say No and the War on Drugs), it is also hard to imagine them being too supportive about legalizing adult cannabis use.

What’s more, in January 2019, the average age of US senators was 61 (from all parties), and polls have consistently shown that older generations have a more adverse view of pot than Millennials and Gen Zers. Although age is not a determining factor, this fact may well add more controversy to an already sensitive issue.

And, let’s not forget Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has so far opposed several riders targeting cannabis reforms and has recently even accepted a ceremonial sword honoring his anti-drug efforts.

For many Americans, politics and cannabis don’t go together

Although two-thirds of Americans are for cannabis legalization, only one out of eight respondents in a 2018 survey said that they wouldn’t vote for a politician who doesn’t share their views on cannabis. On the other hand, more than four out of five people stated that they would still vote for a candidate whose cannabis policies were not aligned with their own attitudes.

So, even though cannabis and CBD are very popular among the public, it seems that political stands on cannabis legalization won’t affect votes all that much.

It’s still about the money

Cannabis companies in the US adhere to Section 280E of the US tax code allowing the federal government to legally collect huge income taxes as businesses selling an illegal substance (on a federal level) are not subject to regular corporate income tax deductions.

Legalizing cannabis would give the cannabis market a much-needed financial boost, but it would also cut the cash flow to Congress.

Federal taxes could be imposed, naturally, but they would only serve to strengthen the black market. Case in point: the state of the legal cannabis market in California.

FDA obstacles  

A Catch-22 type of situation — ultimate, complete research cannot be done into the health effects of cannabinoids without proper legislation, while the legalization of cannabis is contingent upon proving that it has more rewards than risks.

The FDA issued an official update on CBD, saying that there is still much “that we just don’t know” and that CBD has potentially harmful effects, doesn’t really make the case for cannabis legalization.

And while the US is struggling on the nationwide cannabis legalization front, its neighbor is moving forward with the plan to launch Cannabis 2.0 as of January 1, 2020.

For Americans, there might not be hope for 2020, but hey, there is still 2021.