The Issues Still Facing America’s Legal Cannabis Industry
Based off of the considerable changes that have taken place throughout the 2010s – and across America – it would not be all that controversial to suggest that the 2020s will represent a great prospect for companies emerging onto the legal cannabis market.
In many ways, of course, this is true. The market itself is larger than ever before, with billions of dollars being generated through the medical marijuana industry alone each and every year, and around two thirds of Americans in support of the drug’s legalisation – numbers significantly higher than they were just a decade ago.
Still, there remain a number of roadblocks that continue to muffle or hinder the growth and development of this invaluable industry – roadblocks that must be addressed, sooner rather than later, if the two worlds of recreational and medical production and usage are able to thrive and, in turn, augment the economy to their full potential.
Read more below.
Federal Legalisation Remains a Distant Prospect
While the overwhelming majority of states now permit some form of marijuana production, dispensation, possession and use, it remains, at the state level, a criminal offence – a fact which continues to propagate the stigma that has hindered marijuana’s progress across the country for decades.
There is, however, plenty of hope for the future under Democratic leadership. The party have previously stated their commitment to breaking down the barriers posed to the legal cannabis industry, and moving toward a federal decriminalization of the drug.
This is a highly nuanced and complex topic, entangled within a number of other issues ongoing within congress today. You can click here to read a more comprehensive breakdown of the long and winding path the marijuana industry will have to take through the US Senate before federal legalization can take root.
The Legal System Continues to Penalise Individuals
Changes to state laws have enabled the legal cannabis industry to flourish – particularly in the medical realm. And, while plenty of small-scale start-ups and independent businesses have found great value within this industry in recent years, the boon has been most clearly felt by big pharma companies.
This, in and of itself, is nothing new. From the fashion, tech and tourism industries to the worlds of financial services and real estate, large companies will inevitably make the biggest impact within their respective markets. It is not ideal, by any means, but it is to be expected.
The issue for the legal cannabis industry remains those individuals who have faced, or continue to face, legal recriminations and punishments for being a producer or consumer of marijuana.
The law offers a strict framework by which we must live, but it is unjust to continue to reprimand individuals who used, possessed, produced or dispensed marijuana and, at the same time, to enable corporations to grow richer and more powerful by means of the same drug.
This is, of course, another issue that the Biden administration hopes to address in the coming months but, unfortunately, change cannot come soon enough.
The Stigma is Not Yet Gone
Stigmas do not disappear overnight, but the overwhelmingly negative sentiment that pervaded social groups across the face of America for so many years has been mitigated with such encouraging speed that many of us, even just a decade or so previously, could not have hoped for.
Many who once scorned marijuana and its users have now changed their minds; at the very least, many now accept the place it has taken within society – even better, many who had never given the drug much thought before, now use it for themselves.
Still, there remains a significant battle ahead for those who want to overcome the last vestiges of the stigma.
Of course, arguably the strongest deciding factor remains federal law. It stands to reason that, since there seems to be a correlation between the eradication of state laws prohibiting marijuana production and use and the eradication of negative feelings towards the drug, a federal U-turn on its criminalization would signal a widespread change in opinion.
All we can hope is that the phrase ‘time will tell’ holds true in this instance, and that, over the coming years, we are able to witness a further turning of the tides for this invaluable industry.
From freeing those who remain victims of increasingly defunct stigmas, to ensuring that the stage is set for fairer competition between companies going forward, we should remain hopeful for further development in the coming years. Under a new administration, we may well begin to see the positive change we need – and individuals on all sides may at last have access to the support they have been craving for decades.