The recent statement by President Biden on marijuana reform marks a significant shift in federal policy. First, he has announced a sweeping pardon for all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. This move aims to rectify past injustices and reflects a changing perspective on marijuana use in the United States.
Further, President Biden’s administration is taking steps to address the inconsistencies between state and federal marijuana laws. The MORE Act, a historic proposal to legalize marijuana at the federal level, is set for a vote in the House. This Act would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, effectively descheduling it and legalizing many marijuana-related activities federally. Such a move is unprecedented, as it would be the first time the full House has voted on a proposal of this nature.
Despite various state-level legalizations, marijuana and THC remain illegal under federal law. However, federal law enforcement has primarily targeted criminal networks involved in the illicit marijuana trade, rather than individual users. The lack of formal guidance from federal banking regulators regarding state and local marijuana legalization efforts remains a challenge.
Senator Harris has emerged as a significant supporter of marijuana reform, cosponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act. This Act, like the MORE Act, aims to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. The act recognizes the need to treat marijuana use as a legal activity, contrasting with the current situation where users face legal repercussions.
The legal status of marijuana has been a contentious and evolving issue. The FDA, along with the DEA, has maintained that marijuana has no federally approved medical use in the U.S., keeping it as a Schedule I controlled substance. This status conflicts with the growing acceptance and legalization of marijuana in various states.
These developments, including the grant of clemency for federal marijuana possession offenses and state ballot initiatives related to marijuana, signal a potential shift in federal policy. This shift could align federal law more closely with the evolving state laws and public opinion on marijuana use.
For more detailed information, visit the White House statement on marijuana reform, the Congressional Research Service report on the MORE Act, and the FDA’s regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products.