As we all celebrated our favorite cananbis holiday, 420, the new administration made a stand on cannabis. On the following day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held a news briefing answering cannabis-related questions. At the briefing, she voiced the president’s support for medical cannabis but leaving the choice for recreational cannabis to individual states. Biden supports rescheduling cannabis, but not at the level most supporters had hoped.
“The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records. He also supports legalizing medicinal marijuana….”— White House Press Sec. Psaki, to reporters on Tuesday, from Ganjapreneur
For some, this is a step forward. In reality, this is far from what the President’s administration has supported over the last year while running. It’s long debated that a Schedule II listing could cause inflated prices, harsh regulation, and tension between the cannabis and the pharmaceutical industry. The reality of what this all means is yet to be seen.
Opposing Cannabis Views in DC
While Chuck Schumer is wishing everyone a “Happy 420”, the Biden administration is still fumbling over its campaign promises. Perhaps the administration is wary of federalization for the good of the cannabis community; but both President Biden and Vice President Harris’ history with cannabis can’t be ignored in the conversation. When asked about legalization specifically, Psaki added:
“I just have outlined what his position is, which isn’t the same as what the House and Senate have proposed, but they have not yet passed a bill.”
Follow-through is everyone’s biggest concern in the matter. An issue with most cannabis promises on the campaign trail in the last 2 cycles. According to Ganjapreneur, New York Post reporter, Steven Nelson, pressed on the Democrat’s promise to address past cannabis convictions and reschedule. Psaki’s response stood firm:
“That’s right,” she said, “but it addresses things moving forward, though, which is important and important to many advocates.”
We will see how this announcement will change things going forward. Congress has been flirting with the idea of cannabis reform on many fronts, but there has only been recent accomplishments giving us more to celebrate this past 420. We now have to wonder if Biden will veto a bill or not whenever it arrives on his desk.
Most questions were postponed until after a rescheduling happened, as Psaki didn’t have the answers to some in-depth questions. In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, and Senator Cory Booker have been working on a bill that they hope to introduce on the floor soon. All eyes will be on Biden and Harris as Congress votes.