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On anniversary of Biden’s scheduling review announcement, groups push for descheduling.
It’s been exactly one year since Pres. Joe Biden called for a scheduling review of cannabis, reframing how cannabis is debated at the federal level.
In that time, much has changed. The Dept. of Health and Human Services‘ recommendation for Schedule III leaked; the Drug Enforcement Administration is likely to follow suit, meaning that cannabis is snowballing toward a new categorization.
Now, a group called United for Marijuana Decriminalization is circulating a petition asking Biden to decriminalize cannabis.
The group, which includes leaders from advocacy groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the National Association of Black Cannabis Lawyers, held a virtual press conference to discuss what they want the current federal administration to do on cannabis policy.
Shaleen Title, co-founder of the Parabola Center, spoke about the incremental nature of the expected rescheduling, and laid out some asks of the Biden administration. The first ask is for guidance from the Department of Justice that pertains to individuals, not just licensed businesses, including “de-prioritizing prosecutions for marijuana-based conduct, seeking reduced sentences, and ending marijuana-related deportations.”
“While guidance is not binding, it’s not law, it’s not a replacement for law, new guidance on these issues would be a valuable incremental step,” Title said.
Maritza Perez, director of federal affairs at DPA, talked about the second ask for Biden, which is that he expand pardons and commutations beyond simple cannabis possession, and include both civilian and military offenses, and that he address “collateral consequences by restoring benefits for those with previous convictions.”
Perez highlighted that relief is needed at the state level, too, because that’s where most cannabis-related convictions happen. Perez noted that 28 states have restrictions on food benefits, for example, for people with records.
Kaliko Castille, president of the board for the Minority Cannabis Business Association, said that “it might be awhile” before Congress acts to deschedule cannabis, so “we want to make sure that President Biden is using the full force of his office right now in this moment that he has to make sure that we can get all that we can from the administration.”
Recap: New Hampshire legalization commission talks medical cannabis.
The New Hampshire cannabis legalization commission, which is tasked with crafting a legislative proposal for “state-controlled sales of cannabis,” met again this week.
Much of the discussion on Thursday centered around how, specifically, the existing medical cannabis program will work alongside an adult use cannabis marketplace.
The state has 14,000 patients and 7 dispensaries, as of June.
One dynamic discussed is that growth in patient numbers has slowed in recent years as neighboring states legalized cannabis.
Members proposed that the attorney general speak at the next meeting, which will be Oct. 19.
New Jersey awards $12 million in equity grants.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority awarded a total of $12 million in grants to 48 cannabis businesses this week as part of the state’s Cannabis Equity Grant Program. Each startup will get $250,000.
In the next phase of the program, which is set to roll out at the end of the year, selected grantees will get $150,000 as well as “technical assistance” that ranges from training to financial management.
“It is important that we build on our efforts to support the businesses seeking to enter and grow within this emerging market,” said Gov. Phil Murphy in the announcement. “As we work to create a stronger, fairer, and more equitable cannabis market, our Administration will continue to increase access and opportunity to the small businesses entering the industry.”