Biden Administration Has Some Cannabis Professionals Feeling Hopeful But Cautious

Biden Administration Has Some Cannabis Professionals Feeling Hopeful But Cautious

The shift in political leadership in the executive branch and the Senate is making some legal cannabis professionals and pundits feel both excited and optimistic about the future. From reactivating stalled cannabis reform laws, such as the MORE Act, which decriminalizes marijuana, to making federal legalization a reality, there is hope that the new Biden/Harris administration coupled with a Democrat-controlled Congress, could perhaps herald an era of promise and progression for the sector.

Yet, because of the ongoing pandemic and recession, the industry might not see significant tailwinds until another two to three years, cautioned Matt Hawkins, founder and managing partner for cannabis-focused private equity firm Entourage Effect Capital.

"Legalization isn't necessarily a top priority for the executive branch," he explained. For Hawkins, passing the STATES Act should be a top priority “since it allows individual states to determine their own legalization framework and support local businesses without interference from the federal government. In this scenario, cannabis products still won't be able to cross state lines, but the model could mirror current policies that govern the alcohol industry."

Brandon Wiegand, the regional general manager of The Source dispensaries in Nevada, said the fact that the Senate is no longer under the control of former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), raises the stakes in favor of the legal cannabis landscape. “With McConnell no longer in a position to obstruct cannabis legislation, I believe we will see [stalled cannabis bills] move forward, giving the cannabis industry much needed support and meaningful reform,” he continued.

In addition to the STATES and MORE Acts, another notable pro-cannabis measure that has been languishing in the Senate since its passage in the House of Representatives has been the SAFE Banking Act, which allows banks and other financial institutions to work with cannabis companies without fear of prosecution. This is a critical piece of legislation, which if passed, would be a watershed as many cannabis businesses are forced to operate as cash-only enterprises because of the federal illegality.