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Cannabis Advocacy Organizations Press Biden on Policy Reform Ahead of 4/20

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Cannabis Advocacy Organizations Press Biden on Policy Reform Ahead of 4/20 A coalition of 85 local, state and national groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden this week urging him and his administration to federally deschedule cannabis.


It’s been six months since President Joe Biden announced a three-step plan to pardon all federal simple cannabis possession offenses, urge all governors to do the same at the state level and launch a review of how cannabis is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Ahead of the industry’s upcoming 4/20 holiday, advocacy organizations are pressing Biden to continue steps toward policy reform and federally deschedule cannabis.

A coalition of 85 local, state and national groups sent a letter to Biden and his administration this week to push for federal action.

“We urge you and your administration to take the steps necessary to deschedule marijuana in conjunction with other administrative actions that center Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities,” the advocates wrote. “Additionally, we implore your

administration to support comprehensive marijuana reform legislation in Congress, such as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), a bill that deschedules marijuana, repairs the past harms of prohibition, and provides a regulatory framework for marijuana markets.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., officially filed the much-anticipated CAOA in July 2022. The legislation would remove cannabis from the CSA, tax and regulate cannabis at the federal level, and grant states the power to keep or administer their own oversight programs.

This type of comprehensive reform is needed, advocates argued in the letter, because “the overwhelming majority of individuals impacted by federal marijuana criminalization were left out of the relief granted by the pardons,” which did not lead to the release of anyone currently serving time in federal prison. It’s time to light it up with Philips LED Gridlighting

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Advocates said in the letter that Biden’s pardons also excluded many noncitizens, who currently face immigration consequences, including mandatory detention or deportation, due to minor cannabis possession convictions.

“Even those noncitizens who were included in the announcement should be provided specific assurance from the administration that pardoned convictions will not be used as a basis for deportation or denial of immigration benefits,” the advocates wrote. They also argued that Biden’s pardon announcement failed to address future cannabis-related arrests, which will continue until the federal government takes further action to decriminalize cannabis.

“Given the impact that a marijuana possession charge can have on future sentences as well as the racial disparities in marijuana arrests, the continuation of marijuana criminalization will allow for continued arrests, and only exacerbate racial injustice in criminal sentencing,” the advocates wrote, concluding, “To end and repair the harms of criminalization, it is essential that the federal government ‘deschedule’ (remove) marijuana from the CSA.”

Beyond descheduling, the advocates urged Biden and his administration to facilitate “comprehensive reform rooted in equity.” This would include automatically expunging federal cannabis cases and creating pathways to resentencing and release, the advocates wrote. “Importantly, legal relief for marijuana offenses must be applied retroactively in order for formerly incarcerated individuals to have a chance at rebuilding their lives and for noncitizens to live free of the fear of deportation for old offenses or prior marijuana industry work history,” they said in the letter.

The advocates also pressed the federal government to enact comprehensive reform that would support BIPOC communities that were disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

“In order to account for these harms marijuana descheduling must be coupled with an equitable regulatory framework that makes certain the economic benefit of the regulated marijuana industry flows to those who are most impacted by the war on drugs and disproportionately targeted by racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws,” they wrote. The letter stresses not only the importance of descheduling rather than rescheduling cannabis, but also the need for comprehensive cannabis legislation to accompany descheduling.

“Marijuana must be fully removed from the CSA and descheduled,” the advocates wrote. “Rescheduling marijuana to a less restrictive schedule in the CSA would do little to address the harms of federal criminalization. As long as marijuana remains anywhere in the CSA, the majority of the problems associated with its criminalization will persist.”

Those problems, they said, include cannabis operators being denied Small Business Administration (SBA) funds, veterans being denied access to medical cannabis programs through their Veteran Administration doctors and state-legal cannabis businesses being denied commercial loans through banks.

“We urge you to use your influence to encourage Congress to pass comprehensive marijuana descheduling legislation that includes a well-thought-out plan for federal regulation and for implementing interstate commerce that is rooted in equity,” the advocates wrote. Join us this year at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino for Cannabis Conference, the leading education and expo event for plant-touching businesses.

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