Will the first week of November 2020 be a seminal week for Cannabis Reform (or a crushing blow)?
So what does the US election, the recent NZ referendum and Cannabis reform have in common?
Cannabis and politics rarely mix as it is seen as both polarising and a contentious hot potato however these next two weeks will determine the immediate future of potential widespread reform.
On the 17th of October the citizens of New Zealand cast their votes in a historic referendum covering both End of Life Choice and the Legalisation of Cannabis for both Medical and Recreational use, which we wrote in more detail about in our last blog. We won’t know the results of this until the 30th of October however this decision will mark the next stage in what could be a wave of reforms or a new brick wall to change.
The US election result will effect Cannabis reform and here's how...
We then have the US elections on the 3rd of November and if Trump wins it's another 4 years of a completely standstill on US federal reform on this subject, although each state might make the decision individually but this is a slow process, as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) found having only culminating in the the final state of Virginia ratifying the amendment in January 2020.
However if Biden wins the US election he has stated that the decriminalising of the Cannabis industry will be one of his first reforms. Hoorah (so we thought!) as always and similar to the NZ referendum result, it does not automatically mean it's plain sailing for the industry as a result.
Biden's complicated relationship with Cannabis
Firstly we have always campaigned for people, especially future US presidents to stop using the Marijuana as it has such negative connotations, but we will forgive him for that as he has come along way in 30 years on his opinion of Cannabis.
In the late 1980s, and even since his comments in 2010 he has been against the legalisation of Cannabis. He was one of the key people to advocate for the War on Drugs and believed it was a gateway drug. However in recent years he has state
"I haven't always been right. I know we haven't always gotten things right [regarding incarcerations for Cannabis offenses]; but I've always tried."
Furthermore, in May 2019, the former vice president noted, "Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” (Agh stop calling it that!)
Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, laid out Biden's proposal to CNN in May 2019:
"Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing marijuana. He supports decriminalising marijuana and automatically expunging prior criminal records for marijuana possession, so those affected don't have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer."
In other words, Biden's current proposal aims to undo some of the previous social inequities caused by the War on Drugs by removing use and possession as a criminal offense at the federal level. This would be done by moving Cannabis from a Schedule I to Schedule II substance. For those curious, a Schedule I controlled substance is a drug with no adopted medical uses and a high propensity for abuse, whereas a Schedule II substance has accepted medical uses, but a high propensity for abuse and the need for oversight.
However Biden's current proposal to decriminalise Cannabis at a federal level is not the same as legalising the it. However It would pave the way for cannabis banking reform which is also a big barrier for the industry to grow.
On the other hand, Biden's plan has the potential to create a logistical nightmare for the Cannabis industry. Cannabis isn't deemed to have any medical benefits as a Schedule I substance. But as a Schedule II substance, it would have defined medical benefits.
As such, it would fall under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and if you are aware of the EFSA proposed action (CBD and other Cannabis products are Narcotics) or the FSA’s proposed novel food reclassifications across the UK and Europe this new governance can lead to more restrictions not less.
Will these outcomes lead to Cannabis reform...Yes and No and here's why
In conclusion it will undoubtedly be a great step forward for Cannabis reform IF in that first week of November 2020 we see Biden win the US election and their is a YES vote from the good folk of New Zealand on legalising Cannabis. However both will still have hurdles to get over, as the next New Zealand government still have the right to ignore this Yes vote (which some parties are prepared to do) and Biden might unwittingly make the situation more challenging for the industry.
However it will still be a movement forward and the most important outcome will be that people on low income's and the clear racial inequalities of those incarcerated for Cannabis offences will have these expunged.
Thank you for reading our blog and if you are interested in trying any of our products please use the code CB10 for a 10% discount on your first order at checkout.