Could COVID-19 Push Federal U.S. Cannabis Legalization in 2020?

federal u.s cannabis legalization

Is the government feeling the pressure for federal U.S. cannabis legalization in 2020? Let’s hope so!

As of Tuesday, 5 May 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has reached 3.58 million. But the impact this pandemic has had spreads further than the illness itself; there’s no telling how long the resulting global recession will last.

But could this result in the passing of a federal legalization bill in 2020?

As the legal cannabis industry continues to bolster the workforce with recession-proof jobs and taxes, governments throughout the world have to consider legalization seriously. Of course, this includes the U.S. federal government.

Cannabis legalization in 2020 is growing more enticing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. So we expect some positive federal legalization news in the near future.

Here’s why we believe that despite the economic turmoil, federal U.S. cannabis legalization could happen this year.

Federal U.S. Cannabis Legalization Offers Financial Benefits

Creating a legalized cannabis system would stimulate the economy. With the pandemic resulting in millions of layoffs, the number of jobs legalization can create could be enough to offset the potential downturn.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, eight of the 11 states in which adult recreational cannabis use is legal have deemed recreational cannabis essential. According to a CNBC report, the weekly sales in March reached over $134 million in California, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado, boasting a 17% increase from last year.

Charlie Bachtell, the CEO of Cresco Labs, had this to say:

“When we all start to be able to lift our heads from this COVID experience, we are going to be faced with a scenario where a lot of jobs have gone away, a lot of economic development impact has disappeared. How are we going to bring that back? I think cannabis has to be part of that discussion.”

But what will it take to start that discussion?

Medical Practitioners Claim Potential Medical Benefits

According to a WebMD survey, cannabis has an assortment of medical potential that calls for legalization. The survey reported the following:

  • 69% of doctors claim cannabis can assist with some treatments and conditions.
  • 67% of doctors believe it should be a medical option for patients.
  • 56% of doctors support federal cannabis legalization.
  • 50% of doctors in states where cannabis is banned believe it should be legal in their states.
  • 52% of doctors in states considering changing the law believe it should be legal in their states.

With the majority of medical professionals surveyed agreeing on legalization, perhaps a federal legalization bill in 2020 is inevitable.

COVID-19 Highlights the Injustices of Criminalizing Cannabis

Historically speaking, cannabis prohibition criminalizes people who would otherwise be considered law-abiding citizens. In 2018, police arrested 663,367 people for cannabis-related violations; 90 percent (608,776) of those arrests were solely for cannabis possession offenses.

While these arrests are unjust, underprivileged groups throughout the U.S. are more likely to experience punishments through this war on drugs. However, the way COVID-19 is increasing the harmful effects of criminalizing cannabis possession is apparent.

Prisoners with underlying health issues could receive a potential ‘death sentence’ with COVID-19 running rampant in jails. Cannabis offenders will most likely receive expungement once legalization happens.

As the people incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses die from COVID-19, these lives lost will highlight the injustices of criminalized cannabis. And as the U.S. federal government continues to ponder over federal legalization in 2020, these injustices will continue.

 

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