Traveler, Digital Nomad, and Cannabis Connoisseur
There's no doubt that public sentiment around cannabis has changed rapidly in the last several years. The US federal government’s favor of legality seemed like a pipe dream just a couple of decades ago, but now with the rising tide of cultural support, it seems inevitable. And it's likely not going to take long at this point - we've crossed the Rubicon and there's no turning back.
The War on Drugs was a complete sham, and any lingering belief that the war was successful in saving the public from the tragedy of drug abuse is negated by the domination of the opioid crisis, which took root and completely devastated large swaths of our society. If a militant approach to drug abuse is effective, why did the opioid crisis spiral out of control?
That crisis was fueled by pharmaceutical companies enjoying massive government subsidies, the same government that was waging the war on cannabis and other natural plant-based drugs. That’s not to say that cannabis can’t be abused, it certainly can. And with abuse comes risk. But that’s true of anything when done in excess. And the cost of abusing cannabis for the user is extremely mild compared to other drugs, including legal ones.
Pandora Won’t Go Back into the Box
Not only has the war on drugs (and namely cannabis) been exposed for the absolute farce that it was since the very beginning, we now understand so much more thanks to dedicated scientific research. We have research-based support of the benefits that cannabis offers as a medicine. So the failed war on drugs, plus the public knowledge of the healing power of cannabis, paints a very clear picture that the people will no longer accept the illegality of cannabis. And the people have spoken. As of writing, there are only three states within the union where cannabis is completely illegal.
The old guard must step down. It’s time for our government to adopt a fresh approach to cannabis. It’s status as a schedule 1 drug is laughable to anyone paying attention.
So how will Joe Biden’s administration play into this undeniable shift in the ethos around cannabis use? Clearly, and unfortunately, there’s more to consider than the public good. Political maneuvering has a way of tainting every decision our government leaders make.
But now, opposition to cannabis may be viewed as more of a liability than an asset for politicians. And Joe Biden finds himself in this very position. While there’s talk that he may have denounced cannabis legalization before the election, due to fear that it would cost him votes and a defeat to Donald Trump, he’s currently in the position of power. He can make moves without the overhanging threat of presidential defeat.
The states have made massive gains in blazing a trail to the end goal, giving the feds a clear path to follow. So what do the next steps look like? While there’s movement in the right direction, complete legalization of cannabis at the federal level won’t happen overnight.
First, rescheduling cannabis to a schedule 2 drug would unlock federal funding for scientific research. Biden has made statements in support of this action.
Second, decriminalizing cannabis and expunging criminal records related to cannabis possession will help to heal the country. The Drug Policy Alliance has been putting pressure on Biden to make this happen. This also has support from most of the Democratic Party. Will Biden take the risk to stand against this tide, and risk being washed into the ocean of obscurity and irrelevance? Probably not.
Third, financing the cannabis industry by way of institutional banking will help businesses grow strong legs to make more of a positive impact. One sure way to keep an industry in the black market is to cut off it’s legal cash flows. With better financing comes better transparency, for the government and for investors.
Legal banking for cannabis may actually be the first step forward for Biden’s administration. The SAFE Act was introduced in 2019 to offer protections for depository institutions that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers for such businesses, and for other purposes. If this can be passed under Biden’s watch, it would be a major win for his administration, unlocking significant leverage for cannabis business owners and operators.
So Close, Yet Far Away?
With many positive developments in the political landscape surrounding cannabis, it looks like full legalization is right around the corner. While the majority of public opinion has swayed in clear favor of cannabis, it’s still a very touchy subject for politicians. Many would rather sweep the issue under the rug, and continue business as usual. But the business of being usual, suppressing the healing power of cannabis and oppressing those who use it, will no longer be tolerated.
Change will continue to happen incrementally, then the wave will come crashing in all at once. Will Biden serve the peoples’ interests, or continue to stand against the current, stubbornly convinced in an outdated mode of operation around drug use and abuse? Time will tell.
Drugs are a health issue, not a criminal issue. It’s time to heal, not time to fight.
The War on Drugs and the suppression of cannabis has been a tragedy for our country. And not all people have been targeted equally, either. Some groups have enjoyed a friendly “look the other way” approach by law enforcement. Other groups have been selected for exploitation by the judicial system, and for-profit prisons.
The weight of reasons to be upset can feel overbearing, almost too much to comprehend. But we are a nation made strong by the collective will of the people, to push forward and seek a better way. To create change where change is needed, and innovate new strategies to cope with an ever-changing landscape of challenges.
Biden will not be seen in favor by the writers of history, if he continues to push back against this need for reform at the highest levels of government. The best way forward may not be so simple, but the old way simply won’t work anymore.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!