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Cannabis Reform Takes Center Stage in Presidential Address, But Reactions Mixed

President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to reaffirm his commitment to cannabis reform, marking the first time in history the issue has been addressed during the landmark speech.

On Thursday, March 07, Biden gave one of the most critical speeches of his presidency, laying the groundwork for his battle lines for what is set to be a difficult upcoming election.

The speech covered a number of pressing, global issues, such as the rise of populism, asserting that democracy was ‘under attack’ across the globe, and the Russian invasion, emphasising the US’s critical role in continuing to support Ukraine.

Amid these critical, complex topics, the president said he was ‘directing my cabinet to review the federal classification of marijuana’.

He continued that his administration was ‘expunging thousands of convictions for the mere possession of marijuana because no one should be jailed for simply using it or have it on their record.’

These historic statements, referring to the ongoing initiatives to reclassify cannabis and his 2022 move to pardon thousands of citizens federally convicted of the ‘simple possession’ of cannabis, have been met with a mixed response by the industry.

Speaking to Benzinga, Dutchie’s VP, External Affairs and Deputy General Counsel Bryan Barash said: “We applaud President Biden for bringing additional attention to cannabis, a plant that is now legal where almost 75 percent of Americans live.”

Curaleaf’s CEO, Matt Darin, added: “It’s a significant moment for the country to hear cannabis rescheduling mentioned during President Biden’s State of the Union speech. This level of public support of cannabis reform at the federal level is long overdue, and demonstrates a strong point of leverage for cannabis politically.”

However, not everyone was so positive. In a press release published today the The American Cannabis Collective called Biden’s statements disingenuous.

Its co-founder, Don Murphy, said: “Its political malpractice to ignore the voters who got him here. Black and brown voters that are most affected by the War on Drugs resuscitated his failing presidential campaign following fourth and fifth place showings in New Hampshire and Iowa four years ago. He promised that he would stop sending people to jail for simple possession, but the arrests continue, and he is keeping the War on Drugs alive and well.”

There has been increasing speculation that Biden is attempting to woo younger voters with his action on cannabis reform, a demographic he’ll need to get on-side in the upcoming showdown against the soon-to-be official Republican nominee Donald Trump.

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