Biden doesn’t need Congress to get serious about investigating in medical marijuana. All he must do is instruct the head of the Department of Health and Human Services to get the ball rolling on the marijuana rescheduling process.
President Joe Biden talked a big game with respect to marijuana reform during his campaign. Yet, it turns out that, consistent with the job description of a greasy political figure, none of his pro-pot promises were devised of any substance. Biden said prior to the 2020 election that he was all for expanding cannabis research and legalizing medical marijuana. Yet, his administration just opposed a bill that would force the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to launch clinical trials investigating the benefits of vets using cannabis to tame PTSD and chronic pain.
Earlier this week, a handful of bills pertaining to veterans was discussed by a U.S. Senate committee. One of those measures was designed to study medical marijuana for military veterans. However, a written statement provided by the VA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Health for Community Care, Mark Upton, shows that the Biden Administration is not in favor of such a move.
Upton claims the VA is already doing enough to study the medicinal benefits of cannabis for veterans and that the proposal, introduced by Chairman Jon Tester and Senator Dan Sullivan, “is redundant to the extent that VA is already examining risks and benefits of cannabis in treating PTSD and chronic pain.” The medical marijuana study Upton is referring to is one looking into “CBD to treat PTSD where CBD is used as an add-on treatment to standard of care psychotherapy.” Upton says the results of this research should be made available sometime in 2022.
The Biden Administration’s thoughtful opposition to examining medical marijuana for vets is interesting considering that the Democratic Party supports these ideas. The Democratic platform explicitly states that they “will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level,” as well as “support legalization of medical marijuana.” But it’s beyond the first 100 days, and we still haven’t seen a semblance of cannabis reform in the executive branch. Even Vice President Kamala Harris admits, “we haven’t yet taken that on.”
Listen, Biden doesn’t need Congress to get serious about investigating in medical marijuana. All he must do is instruct the head of the Department of Health and Human Services to get the ball rolling on the marijuana rescheduling process. This is how cannabis could quickly become a Schedule II drug instead of its current Schedule I — something that Biden claims to support — putting the herb into a drug classification with medicinal function.
Under Biden’s direction, the HHS and the Justice Department would downgrade the Schedule listing of the cannabis plant together. The move would not legalize marijuana; it would simply make it easier to research the pros and cons of the plant and give it a fair shot at becoming a regulated drug under federal controls.
But if the Biden Administration isn’t even prepared to allow the VA to conduct research, there’s a good chance that medical marijuana isn’t on the president’s radar. Right now, the fate of cannabis reform at the federal level doesn’t seem promising. Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to take on nationwide legalization, Republican obstruction will likely stand in the way.
To that end, Schumer and Biden seem to want different outcomes when it comes to cannabis. One wants it fully legal; the other supports ending criminal penalties. It remains to be seen how the two will come to terms on weed once it finally takes center stage. All we know is, for now, medical marijuana and any research possibilities will remain stagnant a while longer.