Biden Moves to Relax Cannabis Restrictions

( – Calls for marijuana to be federally decriminalized have increased in recent years, but Congress has yet to draft a piece of legislation that both parties can agree on. Recent proposals have contained provisions that would give the federal government more power, which some lawmakers vehemently oppose.

Many states have taken the matter into their own hands, with 23 legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Thirty-eight states allow the medicinal use of marijuana, but research on the drug is still severely limited due to federal regulations. The University of Mississippi is home to the only marijuana farm in the country where research is conducted.

In October 2022, President Biden issued a blanket pardon for anyone who has been federally convicted of simple marijuana possession. He also ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to start the review process to reschedule the drug. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug alongside dangerously deadly and addictive drugs like heroin. After 10 months of review, HHS officially recommended that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III drug. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted the review and transmitted its findings to HHS and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The DEA acknowledged that it had received the recommendation from HHS and will now begin its own review of the other agencies’ findings.

Advocates for decriminalization have spoken out against rescheduling the drug because people who possess marijuana legally in their state could still be federally charged. However, marijuana business owners will enjoy a decreased federal tax burden if the drug is rescheduled. As of now, marijuana businesses are unable to take certain tax exemptions because they are considered to be narcotics traffickers according to federal law. The relief that would come from rescheduling would give a much-needed financial boost to the industry. Executive Director Edward Conklin from the US Cannabis Council expressed his excitement about the potential reform. He applauded President Biden for his efforts, stating that he is “placing the nation on a trajectory to end prohibition.”

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