Biden’s DOH nominees could steer U.S. cannabis reform in the right direction


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Will cannabis legalization be a repercussion of the Biden-Harris administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress? Based on recent reports, industry professionals are feeling optimistic that President-elect Joe Biden will usher in cannabis reform.

Although U.S. cannabis legalization is not a priority for the new executive branch, it goes without saying that Biden and Harris are much more progressive in comparison to former U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Moreover, since two of Biden’s health nominees are supportive of state-legal cannabis programs, the industry could soon be pushed in a completely new direction.

Biden’s health nominees boast track records of supporting cannabis

Back in December, Biden revealed that he was nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Then, on Tuesday, January 16, he confirmed his intentions to nominate transgender Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of HHS.

Both of Biden’s health nominees have strong track records of advocating for and defending state-legal cannabis programs. With that being said, Becerra and Levine could create a wave of positive change for the medical cannabis industry as a whole.

Since the HHS would be responsible for prompting cannabis rescheduling or banishing the plant entirely from the list of federally controlled substances, the confirmation of Biden’s health nominees are being eagerly anticipated. 

Biden-Harris administration are advocating for cannabis decriminalization

Decriminalization is being advocated for by both Biden and Harris. Since decriminalization would spur on the process of reducing federal penalties and incarceration rates for low-level/minor cannabis offenses, things are certainly moving in the right direction. 

Furthermore, SBA loans would be made available to industry players, who would not be denied federal benefits simply because they have been convicted of a cannabis related crime.

Harris formerly a California Senator and now Vice President is a sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This proposed piece of legislation would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, as well as address various criminal justice reforms associated with the plant.

Meanwhile, with a Democratic-led Congress, the chances of cannabis reform in the U.S. are much higher. Why? Because lawmakers from states that have enacted adult-use cannabis laws, such as Senators from Oregon, Illinois, Washington state, Michigan and Vermont, will be in charge of committee chairs.

Support for cannabis legalization in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with a recent Gallup poll showing that almost 70 percent of Americans want to see policy change enacted. At the current time, 36 U.S. States and Washington D.C. have legalized medical cannabis. Additionally, 15 states and Washington D.C. have permitted recreational cannabis use.