Will COVID-19 eventually open new doors for the marijuana industry?

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(This is an abridged version of a column that appears in the May-June issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

Members of the U.S. Congress have traditionally shown little interest in cannabis reform.

But some marijuana executives are seeing signs that could suggest a change in how Congress views cannabis – and they’ve come at the oddest of times: during the coronavirus crisis.

By the end of March, 50% of U.S. states and the District of Columbia had categorized their legal cannabis companies as “essential” businesses. As a result, those marijuana businesses were allowed – and even ordered – to remain operational amid stay-at-home orders.

That vote of confidence regulators have in their legal marijuana businesses could spur states that have been reluctant to legalize marijuana sales to rethink their positions – especially those that might incur a tax-revenue deficit because other industries inside their borders are failing. Some might also see cannabis businesses as a way to solve unemployment problems.

“The COVID-19 response has shown just how critical cannabis is to the overall economy and job markets in a number of these states, and it’s very hard for the federal government to ignore that,” Michael Bronstein, co-founder of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, told Marijuana Business Magazine. “It’s getting increasingly hard for members of Congress to ignore that.”

Indeed, the coronavirus crisis has put the marijuana sector’s inner workings more in the political spotlight.

To read more about how this could change Congress’ view of marijuana, click here.