New-elect President Joe Biden will be sworn-in as the new President of the United States on January 20. Barring some of the unlikely developments and unforeseen proceedings, for at least the first half of Biden’s presidency, we are all prepared to see a split government. While Republicans are still in control of the US Senate and court, the question remains: Will Joe Biden legalize marijuana despite opposition from Congress. Read on to find out.
The Short Answer: Maybe
It’s pretty evident from the voting pattern that most Americans have also voted in favor of legalization bearing in mind that Kamala Harris takes office as his VP. Kamala Harris, the first woman Vice President has always supported cannabis legalization and she has spoken in favor of federal legalization in the past. For Biden, the stand on legalization is dicey because of a lack of scientific evidence. However, he has in the past few months supported cannabis decriminalization. The only question that remains will be whether he will legalize cannabis on the federal level or not?
While more and more people are getting 420 medical evaluations in states which have legalized cannabis, recently four more states legalized marijuana for adult-use. This, yet again, shows that people have voted in favor of cannabis legalization and decriminalization. For the President, the only obstacle will be the GOP Senate and the majority leader Mitch McConnel. So, for now, it is highly unlikely for the Democrats to legalize cannabis immediately. Although, experts feel that President Joe Biden will make cannabis less illegal with several clauses.
Keeping the legal ambiguities aside, a better way to look at this would be: Will Joe Biden alongside Kamala Harris accomplish the target of decriminalizing cannabis on the federal level, provided that Kamala strongly stands in favor of decriminalization. If we look at the legal procedure, unfortunately, it has not been in favor of federal cannabis prohibition. So, what’s next?
The President May Reschedule Cannabis
The current law describes cannabis as a schedule-1 drug. In simple words, a drug that is more addictive than heroin with very less or no medical value. So, under these circumstances, the President can use the power of the executive branch and reschedule marijuana. The beauty of rescheduling is that Biden cannot de-schedule the drug. Also, rescheduling will allow the Senate to classify cannabis as a less dangerous drug.
This also means that executive branches such as the Drug Enforcement Administration will fall under the radar of Biden. Wherein he can suggest the attorney general reclassify marijuana into a less forbidden class of scheduled drugs. Also, once cannabis is rescheduled, one problem of the marijuana industry gets automatic approval.
Sellers of illegal drugs can claim taxes at the expense of their business. However, reclassifying does not solve the entire problem. You see, rescheduling does not mean that you can most certainly use national bank services. Especially when businesses continue to violate the laws after the drug is rescheduled. And more vitally, just like the President cannot pass bills and execute laws without the Congress, it cannot reschedule cannabis. That’s not within the powers of the office.
Does This Mean Cannabis Will Remain Illegal?
Legally, Congress can go back and forth with the options they have. However, expending political capital and rescheduling are far fetched options. All we can hope for is Kamla to push the MORE Bill further in the house. So that in the future, we can hope for the bill to become a law. At least this hope will allow authorities to expunge previous criminal records.
As far as Joe Biden is concerned, he will not use the executive branch. The only thing he will do is encourage scientific research and provide funds to do the same. He could also ease up some restrictions associated with cannabis use, but legalizing cannabis is still an uphill battle.
For now, get 420 medical evaluations or a cannabis recommendation from a state-certified health physician. Use the recommendation to purchase cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary. And more vitally, don’t forget to study your state laws. That may save you from political and legal confusion.