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The 2023 U.S. Cannabis Policy Reform Horizon

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The 2023 U.S. Cannabis Policy Reform Horizon

(CTN News) – In 2022, there was a lot of optimism for a change in federal cannabis legislation in the US. The early 2022 excitement around total legalization or de-scheduling, particularly under a Democrat-led Congress and White House, turned out to be unfounded.

Nevertheless, the discussion has evolved from being a niche topic to being widely discussed. Recall how Mitt Romney, who was running for president then, shot down any conversation about it. Now, each political party has a champion for cannabis reform.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, after all, was the driving force behind the 2018 Farm Bill, which marked the most significant change to federal cannabis regulation in American history.

When the problem was first raised ten years ago, it was ignored. Cannabis stock prices and financial markets are affected in real time by even the smallest mention of cannabis reform by a federally elected figure in the office.

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Despite this, the SAFE Banking Act did not clear the Senate and was not included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus budget package expected to pass the House. Sen. Mitch McConnell, paradoxically, stopped it.

The CLIMB Act, the companion law to Safe Banking, would have altered the economics of the cannabis sector, even if Safe Banking may not have done so alone.

For those who saw the boom and collapse of the Canadian public markets, the CLIMB Act would almost certainly result in the injection of enormous sums of money into the cannabis sector.

These two important initiatives will evolve this year, but advancing them will be more difficult due to a divided Congress.

Joe Biden accomplished something that no previous president in office has ever done, notwithstanding his apparent disdain for the cannabis plant.

He approved H.R. 8454, the “Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act,” on December 2, 2022.

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This bipartisan measure is an important turning point in the development of federal cannabis policy since it is the first standalone cannabis reform bill to pass both the House and Senate. The tempo is picking up.

Even while I don’t anticipate the White House to take the lead on this issue in 2023, President Biden may do an Andrew Cuomo and promote the bill to divert attention from the current problems coming out of the Executive Branch.

I anticipate further government efforts to change the 280e tax code and bankruptcy laws this year. A bankruptcy reform bill may increase lending trust in the cannabis business.

Despite the few significant defeats we saw last year in North Dakota, Arkansas, and South Dakota, there will undoubtedly be state ballot initiatives.

I’d keep an eye out for decriminalization ballot initiatives in Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, Texas, and Pennsylvania during the 2024 election season.

Ultimately, the “why” for federal cannabis legalization in the US remains elusive. Cannabis is legalized in every nation for various reasons. Sometimes it’s for access to medical care.

Sometimes it’s to improve the criminal or social justice systems. Sometimes it’s done to boost the economy and create jobs. We still don’t understand “why” federal politicians in the US will advance cannabis reform. Before we do, nobody knows.

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