As we show 2020 the door, it’s good to reflect on the progress that cannabis made over the past twelve months. And despite the challenges that this year and its never-ending unpredictability brought with it, the cannabis industry managed to make it stronger than ever.
Some notable highlights include:
- Record-breaking acreage numbers for hemp production
- The postponement of legislation that would drastically slow down THC testing for hemp crops
- Numerous states legalized marijuana in some form
- A one-year extension was granted for growing pilot rules
So with all the progress that the cannabis industry made in 2020, the year 2021 has some high expectations. And despite the obvious challenges that are present due to the coronavirus pandemic, the industry rolls into the new year with more experience under their belt with adjusting to the unexpected.
In what has the potential to be a groundbreaking year for both the hemp and marijuana industry, there are several things we’d like to see happen for cannabis in 2021.
What We’d Like 2021 to Bring to the Cannabis Industry
Understandably, it’s a bit too much to ask for this new year to be the “miracle year” and provide the cannabis industry with every piece of legislation it needs to thrive for the remaining days of our existence. So instead, we will keep our sights set on realistic goals that flow nicely with the current path the industry is on.
If nothing else comes to fruition for the cannabis industry this year, we would like to see the following follow all the way through in 2021:
- Cannabis banking reform
- Marijuana decriminalization
- State-level legalization efforts
- CBD regulation
Cannabis Banking Reform
In order for an industry to truly thrive, it needs to be backed by a stable, reliable, and legal banking system. This is something the cannabis industry desperately needs, and cannabis banking reform could help both hemp and marijuana growers in a huge way.
The Democratic-led House had previously introduced a bill that would allow banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to provide financial services to marijuana companies in legal states without the risk of federal penalty. While this bill seems likely to continue forward with its momentum, a potential problem may be in sight.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the ability to stop this legislation from reaching the upper floor of the House. And although this move would only slow progression for the cannabis industry, members of the Republican party have historically been anti-cannabis.
However, if cannabis banking reform occurs in 2021 and all financial institutions can assist cannabis companies without risk of legal action, then the sky’s the limit for many companies, especially for those with enough capital to make heavy investments into new business ventures.
Back in early December last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This act would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, removing it from the controlled substances list. It would also work to expunge the record of those convicted with nonviolent marijuana charges.
If this bill were to be signed into law, you would automatically see a dramatic shift in marijuana acceptance. Any state that was on the fence about legalizing would likely then be in favor, and a massive increase of tax revenue could be generated throughout the country.
The MORE Act now sits in the hands of the Senate, who is likely to deny the bill. However, this doesn’t erase all hope for marijuana in 2021.
With a vote of 228 to 164, it’s likely that the bill will find its way back to the Senate if they are to reject it. This bill will eventually become inevitable as more and more states are taking action and legalizing the plant themselves. In fact, the first day of January officially marks the beginning of legal recreational marijuana in New Jersey and Montana.
State-Level Legalization Efforts
With the COVID-19 pandemic following us into 2021, it’s unfortunately expected that the federal government will not have cannabis reform at the front of their minds. As a result, it’s up to individual states to continue governing their own cannabis laws.
During the 2020 election, five states passed cannabis legalization legislation in an attempt to create extra state revenue. At the time of writing this, a total of 15 states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana and hemp in some manner.
New York and Pennsylvania are two states that could potentially join this growing list this year. Both the states have been flirting with the idea of marijuana legalization for several years now, and new Democratic leadership could help give this push the support it needs. Ideally, at least another 5 states would pass legalization legislation, with a lofty goal of reaching the 50% mark with states that have legalized.
Since hemp’s legalization in 2018 through the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, industry leaders and investors have been anxiously awaiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put permanent regulations into place regarding the production, marketing, and sale of CBD products. Alas, two years have passed and no progress has seemed to have been made.
Officials in the FDA did make a point to say that research on CBD and other cannabinoids is a priority, however, no timeline was given with the statement. As federal officials continue to maintain their stance against CBD-infused food and drinks, they have remained relatively silent on their belief as to whether using CBD is a safe practice or not.
Independent CBD research, however, has shown us that CBD doesn’t have any drastic side effects to worry about. In fact, similar to THC, nobody has ever overdosed on CBD.
If the FDA can manage to push out some cemented regulations, or even just an outline, it will clear up several grey areas that constantly cause problems for business owners, investors, and hemp transporters crossing state lines.
2021 Is Here
Now that the new year is upon us, all that’s left to do is wait and see how things progress. The beginning of the year is traditionally slow for cannabis legislation, with things typically picking up around and on cannabis cultures’ national holiday on April 20th (also known as 4/20).
Let’s hope that we can look back on this day in one year’s time and refer to 2021 as “the year” for cannabis. After so many years of slowly building up momentum, something big is due to occur.
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe in public, and have yourself the best start to the new year as possible!