The 5 Most Impactful Pro-Marijuana Moves Made By President Biden

Throughout his Senate career, President Joe Biden often took a staunch anti-marijuana and anti-drug stance. However, since taking office, President Biden has become one of the most pro-marijuana presidents in U.S. history, and certainly the most impactful.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden announced that he supported decriminalizing marijuana and allowing states to decide their own marijuana policies. Many in the marijuana community were buoyed by these comments but were hesitant, thinking it might be mere political posturing.

Three and a half years later, although a notable portion of the pro-marijuana community wishes President Biden had done more — including announcing his support for full legalization — it’s hard to argue that President Biden, at the very least, has more marijuana-related accomplishments under his belt than any previous POTUS.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the five most impact pro-marijuana moves made by President Biden (in no particular order):

Signing the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act

In December 2022, President Biden signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act into law, making it the first standalone piece of marijuana legislation to ever be signed into law by a U.S. president. The law streamlines the application process for scientific marijuana studies and removes barriers for marijuana-related research. The measure also altered the Controlled Substances Act so that it’s no longer a violation for a State-licensed physician to discuss the health benefits of medical marijuana with their patients.

Issuing Thousands of Marijuana Pardons

In October 2022, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping pardon for all prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession. This action aimed to address the impacts of criminal records related to marijuana possession, which can affect employment, housing, and educational opportunities. The pardon applied to thousands of individuals convicted on federal charges since 1992. Biden also urged governors to follow suit and issue similar pardons for state marijuana possession offenses, something several governors have already done.

Following the initial pardons, over a year later the administration expanded the scope of marijuana-related clemency efforts to include thousands of additional charges. T

Beginning the Marijuana Rescheduling Process

At the same time as President Biden issued the marijuana pardons, he directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a review of marijuana’s scheduling status. After nearly a year, the HHS recommended to the DEA that marijuana be moved to Schedule III, legalizing it nationwide for prescription use. After conducting their own over eight month review, the DEA announced at the end of April that they are beginning the process to officially move marijuana to Schedule III. This will, by far, be the biggest change in federal marijuana policy since the plant was prohibited decades ago.

Promoting Marijuana Reform at State of the Union

In March President Biden became the first president in US history to promote marijuana law reform during a State of the Union address. Given the tens of millions of people that tune in to these addresses, and the fact that it’s typically the only time the president is in the presence of every member of US Congress and the US Supreme Court, these remarks were meaningful and impactful, and came as a precursor to the rescheduling process beginning the following month.

Altering Federal Employment Policies

In 2021, the Office of Personnel Management issued guidance under Biden’s administration to federal agencies, stating that prior marijuana use should not automatically disqualify individuals from federal employment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a similar policy the following year saying that past recreational marijuana use should not be a disqualifying factor for employment.

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