One of the biggest challenges for people involved in the cannabis industry is the plant’s legal status and the fact that marijuana is not yet legalized federally.

As of now, 11 states in the US have legalized recreational cannabis but the federal government still considers it a schedule 1 controlled substance, making it illegal across the country.

Federal legalization of marijuana is eventually coming

The question of federal legalization for the recreational use of cannabis is not a question of “if” but a question of “when”.

In 2018, Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 nation of industrialized democracies to do so.

Eventually, it will make more sense for most politicians to support legalization than be against it. There’s also the huge amount of tax money that a federally legal cannabis industry would create that I’m sure the politicians wouldn’t mind getting their hands on.

As more and more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis, it creates a domino effect that strengthens a consensus of state law and influences public opinion. 

States that have already legalized recreational cannabis

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine

Washington DC has also legalized recreational cannabis.

Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and New Jersey have upcoming ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in November of 2020.

The Pacific Northwest and the west coast have been the regions to lead the charge for state legalization efforts in the United States but as states on the east coast and most importantly in the South, begin to legalize, it puts more and more pressure on the government to pass federal legalization. 

What that means for businesses and consumers

Eventually, the cannabis market will completely open up for the entire country. There will be many more buyers but also much more competition.

Consumers will be flooded with options for all kinds of products and the marketing and advertising to go with it. The consumer base will certainly grow and evolve as a culture as well. 

The United States has had a strong and unique “cannabis culture” for decades, far before it was ever legal, and that culture will continue to grow and change. 

When marijuana becomes completely accepted in the legal sense in addition to its cultural acceptance, one can only imagine considerably more Americans will openly consume cannabis.

With the federal legalization of marijuana, there will be an absolute explosion in the growth of the cannabis industry.

Many of the established businesses in the cannabis industry will try to expand their operations and customer base. In addition, tons of new businesses will be started all over the country to take part in the cannabis market.

We’ve already seen such massive industry growth in places like Colorado, California, Washington, and Oregon – now imagine that type of growth happening all over the country.

Opportunities for businesses and investors in the cannabis industry

There’s a huge opportunity for cannabis industry entrepreneurs and professionals to be pioneers in what will be an enormous industry domestically and eventually globally.

There will be a big first-mover advantage for businesses and brands that are able to position themselves as industry leaders and gain significant market share before federal legalization occurs. 

Some brands may be able to become household names or corner specific markets. There are certain companies and investors that will be looking at the economic landscape of the cannabis industry and figuring out ways to position themselves as number one.

It’ll be a once in a lifetime chance for many businesses to truly make a name for themselves.

Digital marketing presence will be critical when it comes to marketing, sales, and brand awareness. Federal legalization will supercharge the eCommerce aspects of the cannabis industry since state lines won’t necessarily be deciding who businesses can or can’t sell to.

Especially as more and more people “live their lives online” and digital marketing continues to steal advertising revenue from billboards and television ads.

If any American in the country is a potential customer versus just the people in your state or the local area, you can approach your business in a much different way. 

America’s cultural influence also means better chances for establishing thought leadership and industry best practices when it comes to different business types in the cannabis industry.

There are lots of opportunities that can open up if you can figure out how your brand can dominate the cannabis industry.

If America fully legalizes marijuana it will have a huge impact on the global perception of cannabis as well as economic and public policy toward marijuana and other drugs.

Progress in regards to federal legalization of marijuana

The US House of Representatives is set to vote this month on a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, which isn’t full-on legalization but is still a massive bill that would be a huge start.

Meredith Deliso from ABC News recently wrote about “The “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019” — also called the MORE Act — would officially remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances. It would also expunge federal marijuana convictions and arrests, and approve the allocation of resources for communities affected by the war on drugs, according to the bill’s text.”

Getting marijuana removed from the list of schedule 1 substances would be a massive victory for the American people in general, in addition to the cannabis industry in particular. 

To see legislation like this being introduced and going through the House of Representatives is massively encouraging and hopefully, the MORE Act is passed to get the ball rolling toward full federal legalization. 


Federal legalization of marijuana is eventually coming to the United States, ready or not. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

When that finally happens there will be significant changes to the cannabis/CBD market for both sellers and consumers.

The way that the industry will explode will be similar to the Dot Com boom.

Legalization will create many opportunities for companies who can exploit first-mover advantage, establish a strong digital presence, and become thought leaders in the industry.

If you’re a cannabis brand looking to get help with marketing, contact us for a consultation call to see how we can help.