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Did US President Joe Biden legalize cannabis?

No, but his administration did pardon Americans with federal charges for small amounts of cannabis.

This move will help over 6,000 people, but “it’s important to note here most small cannabis offences are actually sitting at the state level,” says Nawan Butt, Portfolio Manager at Purpose Investments

Biden is urging state governors to pardon those with simple possession convictions.

Biden Finally Makes a Move Toward Cannabis Reform 

biden cannabis

“It’s completely unexpected,” Nawan tells CLN. “Very much seems like political posturing going into midterms. Nonetheless, it is very significant for the cannabis industry.”

ETF Managers Group Cannabis Research and Banking Expert Jason Wilson is less surprised.

“The general feel in the industry is that we will get safe banking with some level of criminal justice reform,” he says, “This announcement and action by President Biden really supports that.”

The stock market certainly liked the announcement. 

“This really kickstarted and reinvigorated the cannabis industry as far the stocks and valuations go,” says Nawan.

“In the last hour of trading yesterday, when the news came out, there was a tremendous surge in volume,” Jasons says, “It’s definitely going to taper off. My guess is you’re going to start seeing positioning for what we can expect to see coming from Congress after midterms.”

Nawan and Jason are hopeful Congress can pass banking legislation for the cannabis industry. 

But can Congress pass a Safe Banking Act within the next two years? “That’s something that can be done in the next two months,” says Nawan.

What Did Biden Do?

When will Biden legalize cannabis? Likely never. “Real action has to come out of Congress for this to move forward more efficiently,” says Jason.

So what did Biden do on Thursday? He did three things.

  1. He pardoned federal cannabis convictions for simple possession.
  2. He urged governors of the states to do the same. 
  3. He asked the Department of Health and the Attorney General to review cannabis and see if they could either de-schedule or reschedule.

It is this third option that has the cannabis industry the most optimistic.

Is Biden Rescheduling Cannabis? 

biden cannabis

Cannabis is currently scheduled as a Schedule 1 drug, which places it in the same category as heroin. A de-scheduling or rescheduling of cannabis would be a significant step toward decriminalization. 

How long might this take? 

“We think anywhere under two years is a fairly aggressive timeline to have,” says Nawan. “A more conservative timeline would be somewhere around five years but we think that’s way too long for something like this to happen.”

Could Biden reschedule cannabis more quickly? 

In 2013, the DEA reviewed hydrocodone (a type of opioid) and rescheduled it within a year. “That review may not be a great yardstick however,” says Nawan, “at that time, there was a national emergency of overdoses.”

But there is precedence. 

“There’s much more science being done on a private level at universities determining the health and efficacy of cannabis, specifically THC,” says Nawan.