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After the success of the cannabis reform legislation in the 2020 election, 2021 was a big year for the industry. Some states in the South, West, and Northeast started to legalize adult-use cannabis. The U.S. Congress is also actively discussing comprehensive legislation that would allow for the legalization of cannabis at the federal level. 

In addition, Big Tech began to enter the space, which was previously taboo. All of this development is expected to continue throughout 2022. As the clock ticks down on the next legislative session, the time for cannabis reform is now.

In July, three prominent senators released a bill that would legalize marijuana. The bill, known as the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAO), was co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, and Ron Wyden. It aims to reduce the criminal penalties for marijuana possession and re-invest in communities affected by the war on drugs. Despite the positive effects of the bill, the cannabis industry was not happy with the proposed 25 percent excise tax. It also gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the production and marketing of marijuana products.

Despite the lack of support from the Senate, experts believe that the CAO Act could serve as a blueprint for the legalization of marijuana in the country.

In November, Congressman Nancy Mace of South Carolina introduced a bill that sought to decriminalize marijuana possession. It was the first time that a Republican had introduced a bill that sought to overturn the federal prohibition of cannabis. The bill, which was mainly focused on reducing the federal tax rate on marijuana, was met with mixed reactions from Democrats. It did not include measures to allow the FDA to oversee the industry.

Until now, tech companies have been reluctant to address the issue of advertising related to the cannabis industry. In 2021, several prominent tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, adopted a cautious stance.

In July, Apple allowed applications that promote the use of marijuana to be featured on its App Store. Eaze, a cannabis delivery company, was the first company to launch an app that allowed users to order marijuana products. Months later, Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon’s Consumer division, announced that the company would no longer have job applicants to submit to drug tests if the position was subject to regulation. He also noted that the company would be supporting the MORE Act, which would allow the legal use of marijuana.

In April, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company was eyeing the potential of the cannabis industry following the company’s acquisition of Drizly. In Canada, Uber users could order marijuana through its app in just a couple of months. The company’s subsidiary, Uber Eats, partnered with Tokyo Smoke, a cannabis retailer. 

It’s hard to imagine how big a role tech companies such as Apple and Amazon would play in the cannabis industry. During a speech at a recent conference, Chris Walsh, the CEO of Marijuana Business Daily, said that it would have both positive and negative effects.

Although the prospects of passing legislation related to the legalization of marijuana are not yet clear, the issue will likely be brought up in Congress. Last year, the House passed a legalization bill, but the Senate did not take up the measure.