The federal decriminalization of cannabis has never felt closer than it does now: two separate marijuana reform bills (the SAFE Banking Act and the MORE Act) are both progressing through congress; Chuck Schumer is teasing another separate bill to federally decriminalize cannabis; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently called cannabis a “therapy that has proven to be successful” and the vice president, Kamala Harris, claims to have been in support of marijuana legalization since 2018.

And still, even with the chips stacked so heavily in cannabis’ favor, the prospect of federal reform seems unlikely.

Because, apparently the Biden/Harris administration is simply too busy dealing with COVID-19, and its effects to give cannabis the time of day. Despite vague promises from the campaign trail, alluding to cannabis reform and expunging prior marijuana records, both Biden and Harris now seem completely unconcerned with addressing this issue.

When asked about cannabis legalization in a recent interview, Kamala Harris replied, “Honestly, right now, we’ve been focused on getting people food, helping them stay in their apartments or in their homes, getting kids back to school, getting shots into arms. That has been all-consuming.”

It was the first time since they’ve been in office that either Biden or Harris has publicly mentioned cannabis at all. And it’s to come out and say: “we’re dealing with bigger problems, America’s stoners can wait for legal weed until we’re good and ready to give it to them.”

It’s unfortunate news for all of the current and potential medical cannabis patients living in illegal states, suffering from health issues that cannabis could treat; it’s unfortunate news for all of the businesses in legal states who still can’t safely bank their money, access federal benefits, or get tax refunds; and it’s unfortunate for the states who won’t be able to access a massive stream of tax income.

And yeah, it’s unfortunate for recreational users, too. Just because someone doesn’t have a reason to smoke weed, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to it.  

The Biden/Harris administration has a very seize-able opportunity here. The simple federal legalization (or even decriminalization) of cannabis would win over the hearts of Americans on both sides of the aisle; it would be one campaign promise that Harris could check off her list; it would help thousands of suffering patients, and make business exponentially easier to conduct for cannabis companies across the country. There is literally no downside to passing some kind of reform legislation — and all it would take is a flourish of Biden’s presidential pen. It’s so close.

And yet, it’s apparently still out of grasp. Or, at least, so far on the backburner no one can reach it.