The Biden administration has made it clear that it is not interested in reversing the legalization of cannabis at the federal level. The administration has also said that it is open to decriminalizing cannabis and expunging the records of people who have been convicted of cannabis offenses.
In October 2022, President Biden requested that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiate a review of the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The HHS review is expected to take several months to complete.
The Biden administration’s plan for cannabis is likely to be influenced by a number of factors, including the results of the HHS review, the views of Congress, and the public opinion.
Here are some specific actions that the Biden administration has taken on cannabis:
- In December 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued new guidance to federal prosecutors that directed them to prioritize the enforcement of federal cannabis laws only in cases where there is a significant federal interest. This guidance was seen as a significant step towards decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level.
- In April 2022, the DOJ announced that it would not interfere with the implementation of state cannabis laws in states that have legalized cannabis for adult use. This announcement was another sign that the Biden administration is not interested in reversing the legalization of cannabis at the federal level.
- In July 2022, the House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and expunge the records of people who have been convicted of cannabis offenses. The MORE Act is unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form, but it is a sign that there is growing support for federal cannabis reform.
The Biden administration’s plan for cannabis is still evolving. It is important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and to contact your elected officials to let them know your views on cannabis reform. Please contact WINTER LLP today with your questions about the ever-changing cannabis regulatory law landscape.