While cannabis presently remains federally illegal in the US, industry experts predict that a Joe Biden presidency and a “blue wave” in Congress this fall could be the catalyst to set off cannabis legalization in America as early as 2021.
Just three months ago, when Donald Trump seemed destined for a second term, the same business observers rated the prospect of 2020 weed reform “near-zero,” and “unlikely” even for 2021. That was then, of course, and a very different version of reality exists now.
A global pandemic; social upheaval triggered by police brutality; and a double-digit lead in the polls by presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, have reconfigured everything — including the potential for the US government to fast-track the onset of legal weed.
At least that’s what a team of analysts, led by John Zamparo of CIBC Capital Markets, seems to believe. “A fact that has become incredibly obvious from a chaotic 2020 is how quickly things can change,” Zamparo said. “We stand by our statement for 2020, but for 2021, well, when the facts change, we change our minds.”
Regulation that includes language for criminal justice reform will likely gain additional support thanks to a big push for anti-racism initiatives. People are also beginning to see cannabis as a saving grace from the economic fallout of COVID. The tax benefits from a newly legalized industry could help close budget gaps in states severely impacted by the pandemic.
Joe Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf, one of the largest cannabis companies in the US, said he agrees that Dem dominance this November is a logical gateway to legalization.
“If the Democrats take the Senate or the White House, I think you’ll see sweeping cannabis reform very quickly,” Zamparo told Yahoo Finance. “It’s not a partisan issue — for sure we have support on both sides of the aisle — but I do think the Democratic leadership has shown a desire to pass cannabis legislation where the Republican leadership has not.”
Last week, the non-partisan Cook Political Report concluded that Democrats are favored to win back the Senate. That shift is expected to be crucial to weed reform, as previous attempts at bipartisan legislation have been repeatedly shot down by Republicans.
Lusardi stated that legalization will open up huge international business possibilities and profoundly upgrade the American experience with weed. “Our competition is the black market, full stop,” he said. “Ninety percent of cannabis transactions are still done through a drug dealer. Our goal is to create access to cannabis, do it safely, regulated, and taxed. I think if we do that, frankly, we'll all be very successful.”