Marijuana Descheduling Projected for 2023, as Per Biden Admin

During a recent press briefing in Sacramento, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra revealed to Kyle Jaeger, senior editor of Marijuana Moment, that the Biden administration is open to discussing the descheduling of cannabis. 

This stance aligns with President Joe Biden’s Juneteenth declaration on June 16, which also indicated a willingness to address the issue. 

This suggests that the administration is considering a significant policy shift in drug control, potentially one of the largest in decades. 

Moving Toward the Right Direction

Advocates who are pushing for the liberalization of marijuana regulations have been urging for changes in its scheduling due to the increasing number of states legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana in various ways. 

However, this endeavor faces significant political challenges. 

A conservative-leaning House of Representatives is likely to resist supporting any legislation or executive orders that seek to legalize marijuana at the national level. 

Despite broad support for marijuana liberalization across party lines and among independent voters, elected officials from more conservative areas often fail to represent their constituents’ views on marijuana reform.

For instance, consider the case of Louisiana. A survey conducted by the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication in May 2023 found that around 70% of Louisiana residents support legalizing recreational marijuana use, and 90% support the legalization of medical cannabis. 

This public opinion data came to light as the state’s legislature was working on legislation to expunge simple marijuana offenses from criminal records, which was subsequently signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. 

This new law, Act 342, allows individuals convicted of possessing up to 14 grams of cannabis on a first offense to petition the courts for record expungement after 90 days from the conviction. 

This represents a significant victory for restorative justice efforts, especially in a state with a history of police brutality and racism, and governed by both centrist Democrats and far-right Republicans.

Potential Roadblocks

Despite widespread support for marijuana reform, U.S. Senator John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana stands against marijuana legalization. 

Across traditionally Republican-leaning states, voters overwhelmingly back legalizing and regulating recreational marijuana for adults. A case in point is Louisiana. 

Meanwhile, data from the University of Houston revealed that 67% of Texas voters favor legislative initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 or older. However, far-right U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas strongly opposes legalization, stating that marijuana is illegal and harmful.

It’s important to note that an overwhelming majority of adult voters in the United States, approximately 88%, are supportive of legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, according to data from Pew Research Center.

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