How Joe Biden Became The Biggest Barrier to Cannabis Legalization

Joe Biden went from being the pro-pot presidential candidate to being the biggest barrier to the federal legalization of weed.

While we maintained skepticism regarding Joe Biden's willingness to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, given his comments about cannabis being a gateway drug and his historic opposition to legalization, his statements about decriminalizing cannabis on a federal level gave hope to the broader cannabis industry that change would indeed come if he was elected.

Moreover, Kamala Harris had previously supported cannabis legalization and spoke favorably about her experiences smoking cannabis on a radio show.

While Vice President Harris subsequently walked her opinions back to align with Joe Biden's, by supporting decriminalization, she nonetheless clearly had a nominally positive opinion about legalization, (again, despite a history that warranted skepticism.)

As such, pot stocks soared upon news of Biden's presidency, with several U.S. states legalizing cannabis in the following week after his election. And if all of that wasn't enough, Democrats then gained control of the U.S. Senate, meaning that the Dems now controlled all levers of power in the U.S. Government.

With Democrats being more favorable toward marijuana legalization than Republicans, it looked like nothing but green lights for the industry to finally become federally legal.

Admittedly, states have been legalizing cannabis at an impressive rate since Biden was elected, but this is piecemeal when compared with federal legalization. The federal legalization of cannabis would remove most all of the red tape surrounding the cottaged, fractured cannabis industry in the U.S., and would allow companies to thrive in a way that they currently can't.

Due to federal illegality, cannabis companies are often required to become vertically integrated, requiring enormous amounts of expenditure, in addition to being unable to interact with financial institutions. This places a tremendous burden on the companies hoping to thrive in the space, and makes the already stigmatized industry very difficult for many people to break into.

And yet, not only has Biden been virtually silent on the matter of decriminalization, but it was also revealed that he recently fired staffers for having smoked cannabis previously.

Moreover, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has even had to stand in opposition to Biden in attempts to pass federal marijuana reform.

In short, while expectations surrounding President Biden were high, he has thus far been disappointing for cannabis enthusiasts, with little to no sign that he will change in the immediate future.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.