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420 with CNW — Top Congressional, Federal Cannabis Policy Developments in 2023

The year 2023 witnessed a range of notable federal developments on the cannabis landscape. Among these were significant milestones such as the Biden administration’s proposal to reschedule cannabis, an expansion of pardons for federal cannabis possession offenses and setbacks in the congressional journey toward marijuana banking reform.

As Congress takes a recess for the holiday season, stakeholders and advocates are reflecting on the highs and lows of the past year, intending to advance their efforts in 2024.

A pivotal moment in 2023 was the U.S. Department of Health & Human Sciences recommending the reclassification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This recommendation, arising from President Biden’s directive, is undergoing the administrative process led by the U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). If implemented, this move would symbolically acknowledge that marijuana is not a dangerous drug lacking medical value; it would also potentially ease research barriers and allow state-licensed businesses to claim federal tax deductions.

Biden also made headlines by extending and broadening pardons for individuals with federal cannabis possession offenses, aligning with his renewed focus on marijuana reform. However, these actions fall short of his initial campaign promises, which included federal legalization of medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, and preventing incarceration for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.

Marijuana banking reform faced challenges in the Senate, with the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Bill stalling despite passing through the Banking Committee. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remains committed to advancing the bill in 2024, emphasizing the need for bipartisanship in a divided Congress.

Public support for cannabis legalization reached an all-time high of 70%, according to a Gallup poll released in November. This bipartisan support extended across states with varying marijuana legalization statuses, reflecting a growing consensus on the need for reform. In congressional legislation, various bipartisan bills were introduced in 2023, addressing different aspects of federal cannabis policy. Notable bills included the STATES 2.0 Act, the MORE Act and the HOPE Act, each proposing reforms ranging from ending federal prohibition in legal states to expunging prior marijuana convictions.

While multiple drug-policy reform amendments were blocked by the GOP-controlled Rules Committee, some amendments, such as allowing VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans, did find success in the House. In addition, several federal agencies engaged with marijuana-related issues in 2023. The DEA announced plans to increase domestic production of cannabinoids for research purposes while also proposing a federal ban on two psychedelic compounds. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration stirred controversy by refraining from regulating hemp-derived CBD in the food supply, and the VA reaffirmed its prohibition on doctors recommending medical cannabis to veterans.

The Justice Department faced legal challenges defending the federal ban preventing cannabis consumers from buying or possessing firearms. Despite court rulings deeming the ban unconstitutional, the government continues to appeal.

Looking ahead to 2024, the marijuana landscape remains uncertain. The DEA’s decision on cannabis scheduling and the fate of the banking bill in the Senate will be key focal points. With a presidential election year on the horizon, Biden may continue to emphasize his marijuana pardon actions, though the extent of his commitment to broader legalization remains to be seen. Despite the challenges, the momentum for marijuana reform persists, providing stakeholders and advocates with a compelling force for the future.

Established cannabis entities such as Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) (TSX: CRON) will certainly take a keen interest on how the regulatory landscape evolves this year.

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of two informative articles each business day. Our concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. Articles are released each business day at 4:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Eastern – our tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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