President Joe Biden based his campaign on renewable energy, infrastructure and cannabis decriminalization. Months after he assumed office, President Biden was working on a massive infrastructure bill that would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the transition to cleaner energy sources. On the other hand, he hasn’t made any efforts to keep his cannabis campaign promises in the year and a half since he was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States.
However, the word from a high-level White House official is that Biden’s administration is “monitoring” states with legal cannabis markets to help inform federal cannabis policy. The director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in an interview with the Financial Times that the administration is currently learning from states that have already passed some kind of cannabis reform.
He stated that officials were looking into broad harm-reduction proposals, including supervised drug consumption sites for people suffering from addiction and even federal decriminalization. Gupta also said that Biden had made it clear that current marijuana policies were far from effective.
Gupta noted that this will be the first time America’s federal government is espousing harm-reduction policies rather than a prohibitionist approach. He emphasized that people shouldn’t be arrested or incarcerated for drug use, especially when people of color are several times more likely to be arrested and charged for drug use despite near-identical use rates with white people.
Even if the Biden administration doesn’t pass comprehensive cannabis reform, putting an end to drug-related arrests and incarcerations would basically amount to decriminalization from a policy perspective. Biden himself has stated that he does not support comprehensive reform or launching a recreational cannabis market at the federal level. Rather, he believes in passing medical marijuana legislation and letting individual states figure out how they want to regulate cannabis on their own.
One of the harm-reduction policies that are under review is the controversial safe consumption sites that would allow people who are currently addicted to illegal drugs to gain increased access to addiction treatment resources, hopefully reducing the number of overdose deaths.
Gupta says that the administration already has a proposal that would lift the ban on safe-consumption sites even though the efficiency of such centers is still in question. Officials from America’s first authorized harm reduction centers in New York City say the centers have been quite effective and are already saving lives.
As the federal administration warms up to the idea of legalizing or at least decriminalizing marijuana production, possession and consumption, the market served by licensed entities such as American Cannabis Partners is likely to explode nationwide.
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