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Advocates Say Biden Missing Huge Opportunity by Not Pursuing Cannabis Legalization

At the moment, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. This is despite the fact that 38 states have legalized its medical use while another 24 states legally allow recreational use. Marijuana advocates believe the Biden administration is missing out on a chance to attract young voters by not legalizing the drug federally.

Thus far, the administration has availed different avenues for cannabis reform, including initiating the process of possibly rescheduling the drug’s status and issuing federal pardons for simple possession. Advocates argue that this isn’t enough, however, noting that President Joe Biden is not addressing marijuana’s criminalization, which has disproportionately affected minorities. The president is also failing to live up to his 2020 campaign promise to decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge previous convictions.

Progressive legislators in the senate are calling for the administration to deschedule marijuana because this would decriminalize the drug at the federal level. This is much better than rescheduling marijuana, which would reduce restrictions and penalties by moving it from its current Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule III.

Last month, a group of Democratic legislators penned a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stating that the placement of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act didn’t align with public opinion or state law and had had a destructive impact on communities.

In a recent interview, Marijuana Policy Project’s director of state policies, Karen O’Keefe, stated that while rescheduling marijuana was better than existing categorization, it was still a far cry from what was needed from the federal government. Numerous polls have shown that a majority of the public is in favor of cannabis being legalized federally. One Gallup survey conducted last year determined that 70% of Americans believed that cannabis should be legal. Another recent survey also underscores public support for federal cannabis reform, with 58% of those polled in favor of the drug being rescheduled.

Currently, President Biden and his likely rival, former President Donald Trump, are polling side by side both in crucial swing states as well as nationally. It is expected that the election could boil down to a couple thousand voters in those states, which gives issues such as cannabis legalized added importance.

At the moment, the DEA hasn’t decided on cannabis’ rescheduling. Additionally, the pardons issued by the Biden administration in 2022 didn’t apply to convictions made at the state level, which means that there’s more work that needs to be done in that space as well.

The cannabis industry, together with leading actors such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF), will have to keep operating within the existing regulatory framework as they await federal reforms that finally regard this industry like any other business.

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