In a surprise Statement on October 6, 2022, President Biden announced a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana as well as the initiation of administrative review of the Federal scheduling of marijuana.
This is big news, probably the biggest news on the marijuana legalization front since the Cole Memo was issued in 2013. The review of the scheduling of marijuana, which would be conducted by the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department, could fundamentally overhaul marijuana policy in this country. Rescheduling of marijuana would allow for research and medical use and some possible financial/tax benefits. Descheduling of of marijuana could result in marijuana being regulated similar to tobacco and alcohol.
Generally, rescheduling or descheduling of a controlled substance is a lengthy process, which is well explained in this article from the Brooking’s Institute. Biden, in his Statement, however indicated that he wants this process to move “expeditiously.” Hopefully, this means we will see some progress soon.
Although most marijuana possession convictions occur on the state level, Biden also urged all state governors to issue the same pardons. There is nothing binding states to issue these pardons, but some state officials will likely abide by Biden’s call to provide relief for even more Americans unfairly impacted by this country’s failed approach to drug enforcement.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough the significance of Biden’s new announcement. The President’s recognition of the need for change in federal marijuana policy is likely the first step in the federal decriminalization of marijuana. Exciting times are ahead, stay tuned to this site for updates.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.