Any discussion about federal legalization of cannabis should begin with the admission that any chance of legalization in the near future looks unlikely. With Republicans controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, the changes of changing federal law on cannabis are dim.
But things change. One election cycle can put pro-cannabis lawmakers back in control. And even some Republicans have proposed changes that could impact the cannabis industry and cannabis consumers.
But even if federal legalization seems far off, it’s worth looking at some of the likely benefits to cannabis consumers. It helps explain why so many people continue to lobby for changing federal law that categories cannabis with cocaine and heroin.
Six Likely Impacts of Federal Legalization on Cannabis Consumers
Whenever it eventually happens, federal legalization of cannabis in the United States will have a significant impact on consumers. Some of the most likely outcomes include the following.
Right now, access to cannabis is determined by which of the 50 states you’re currently standing in. Federal legalization would end that, making it easier for cannabis consumers to access both medical and recreational purposes. Consumers would not need to obtain a medical marijuana card or live in a state where cannabis is legal.
Much in the way that access to cannabis is controlled by the state, so are standards for cannabis products. Much like it does with food, the federal government would provide increased standardization of cannabis products nationwide. Federal legalization also could result in more consistent regulations for quality and potency.
Some states are raking in the tax revenue from cannabis sales through a sales tax on consumers. Federal legalization could result in the implementation of taxes on cannabis products at the federal level. This could increase the cost of cannabis for consumers, but also provide increased revenue for federal and state governments.
This benefits not only cannabis consumers, but everyone looking for a job. The cannabis industry already employs more than 400,000 people, a number that would skyrocket with national legalization.
Federal legalization could also open up new opportunities for research into the potential medical benefits of cannabis, which could lead to the development of new treatments and therapies. This change would directly benefit the millions of people who want to use cannabis for health and wellness.
Reduction in Law Enforcement Costs
It’s important to note that most law enforcement leaders oppose legalization, saying it could lead to more people driving under the influence of marijuana and other harmful outcomes. However, it’s also possible that federal legalization could lead to reducing law enforcement costs related to enforcing drug laws. That, in turn, could lead to officers having more time to focus on other types of crime.
These represent six likely impacts of federal legalization on cannabis consumers. However, everything is just an educated guess until it actually happens, as much of the impact on cannabis consumers will likely depend on decisions lawmakers make in implementing the details of cannabis regulations.