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When Will Federal Prohibition Finally End?

With Democrats elected into the presidency and taken control of Congress, many cannabis advocates believe federal legalization is on the horizon. This article discusses how likely it is that federal cannabis prohibition will soon end.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Mar. 4, 2021 · 4 min read
When Will Federal Prohibition Finally End?

With Democrats elected into the presidency and taken control of Congress, many cannabis advocates believe federal legalization is on the horizon. How likely is it that federal cannabis prohibition will soon end?

In December 2020, the House of Representatives passed the MORE act - Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The act would federally reschedule cannabis and expunge the records of those with prior convictions would have their records expunged. In February of this year, Senators. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement saying that they would pursue “comprehensive cannabis reform legislation,” and met with professionals in the cannabis industry. While hurdles still exist, there is a chance federal cannabis prohibition could finally end.

Why Federal Legalization Could Happen

Along with Democrats making up the majority of the Senate, there are several other factors that could contribute to the end of federal prohibition. First, two-thirds of Americans now favor legalization according to a Gallup poll. 36 states have now legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and 11 states have done so for adult use.

The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer has been public about favoring legalization. Schumer sponsored the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act in 2018, to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Even though she was a drug warrior and heavily criticized during her time as a judge, Vice President Kamala Harris has been on record saying she favors legalization. She co-sponsored the 2019 MORE Act.

Why Federal Legalization Might Not Happen

Even though many Democratic Senators favor legalization, there are several who do not. One Senator who doesn’t favor legalization is Joe Manchin, Democratic Senator from West Virginia. When asked about legalization in 2017, Manchin said a prohibitionist line that has been debunked countless times.

“I talk to the addicts. I always ask, ‘How did you get started?’ Most told me they started out with recreational marijuana. Legalizing recreational marijuana is something I have not been able to accept or support,” Machin said to a reporter from Duke University while discussing the opioid crisis.

Another Democrat who doesn’t favor legalization is Sherrod Brown. While Brown isn’t in favor of ending prohibition, as the new Chairman of the Senate’s Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Brown has supported cannabis banking reform.

In addition to disagreements from Democrats, Republicans in the Senate largely do not favor an end to prohibition. Only five Republican Senators voted yes for the More Act, with 158 voting against it. However, with the pandemic still wreaking havoc on the economy, it’s clear that cannabis could help. The U.S. cannabis industry now supports 321,000 full-time jobs, with no end to the growth in sight.

Biden’s Track Record

Biden has a long history of being anti-cannabis, playing a major part in amping up the American drug war in the 1980s and 1990s. While serving as Vice President, Biden made it clear that the Obama administration was not in favor of legalization. Biden told Time Magazine that the White House wouldn’t prosecute low-level cannabis offenses, but that “Our policy for our Administration is still not legalization.” Biden has been fairly consistent on his stance regarding cannabis - that it should be federally decriminalized and left to states to decide whether they want to legalize it.

Industry Leaders Must Emerge

In February, representatives from major cannabis organizations (including the MCBA and NCIA) met with Sens. Schumer, Booker, and Wyden to discuss cannabis policy reform. The group plans to release legislation relatively soon, which will hopefully be a jumping-off point for discussions involving federal legalization. While these developments are promising, industry leadership is essential.


If legalization does happen, the process will be a long one. While the process will be long, issues still exist - including lack of access to capital, small business services, and relief loans.

While humans have been consuming cannabis for centuries, it has only been since 1937 that the plant medicine has been prohibited here in the U.S. While we might be closer than ever to federal legalization, the chances of it actually happening appear to be relatively slim at this point.

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We hope you found value in our content about the end of federal cannabis prohibition. Be sure to check back to our blog often, because we post fresh content every week! Connect with us on social media: @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram, where we are @hashdash.com.

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Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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