We are now in the year 2021, a year brimming with possibility and hope in the cannabis industry. The 2020 election brought about the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, Arizona, Mississippi, and South Dakota for the first time. Voters are increasingly in support of cannabis legislation for both medical and recreational use. Currently, over half of our nation’s states permit medical marijuana, while recreational marijuana is legal in 15 states.
What is the latest change in cannabis legislation?
Last December, the House passed the ″Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,″ or the MORE Act. This bill would decriminalize all cannabis at the federal level and create more opportunities for farmers and small businesses in the industry. The MORE Act would also make Small Business Administration loans and services available to cannabis-related companies or service providers.
Why is this applicable to hemp farmers?
Under decriminalization, possession of cannabis higher than 0.3% total THC will result in fines rather than criminal charges, but both the production and sale of the material will remain illegal. This is groundbreaking as there is still a massive grey area within hemp-derived crude oil and distillates, which contain more than 0.3% total THC on a per weight basis.
What might the future look like?
Kansas is one of three states in the nation where medical marijuana remains illegal. However, Governor Kelly is proposing legislation to legalize medical marijuana in order to pay for Medicaid expansion in Kansas. Additionally, Brendan Kennedy, the CEO of Tilray – a global leader in cannabis – believes that federal cannabis legalization in the US will come within the next two years. Kennedy expects that Canada and Mexico’s progressive cannabis policies will encourage the US to further reform cannabis policies.
Cannabis legislation has had a long and tumultuous history in the US, but the last few years have seen a great shift in the nation’s belief system around the plant. While there is still a long way to go until federal and state laws fully protect hemp and marijuana farmers, processors, and distributors, the future is promising.