From state ballot initiatives and presidential pardons to federal legislation both passed and pending, 2022 was a busy year for the cannabis industry. With 2023 projecting to be just as challenging for the industry, it’s wise to look back in order to best understand what’s coming down the pipeline.
On October 6, less than a month from November’s midterms, President Biden issued a presidential pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple cannabis possession. While this was a significant step toward broader decriminalization, many were underwhelmed by the implications of the pardon, as it will only affect about 6,500 U.S. citizens who carry federal cannabis-related convictions on their records from 1992 to present.
President Biden urged each governor to follow suit by issuing similar pardons for state offenses, and finished his media-grabbing three pronged announcement by directing the attorney general and secretary of Health and Human Services to “review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law”. Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I Drug per the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the same level as heroin. Even though “expeditiously” sounds promising, the reality is that this process is likely to take some time to accomplish the goal of properly schedule cannabis.
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