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Biden Unlikely To Act On Marijuana Before Midterms

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By Jelena Martinovic

Democrats are becoming more vocal about cannabis policy reforms as the midterms approach. They are urging President Biden to act on the issue. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman recently called upon the President to deschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug and work to decriminalize it, after which the two politicians crossed paths in Pittsburgh and discussed potential changes to the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.

However, it seems that Biden will remain silent on the issue, at least before the midterm elections, judging by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s latest statement, reported Marijuana Moment.

“I don’t have anything else to share in the upcoming weeks,” Jean-Pierre said on Friday during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One. She added that the President’s stance on cannabis is unchanged. He wants to reschedule marijuana, decriminalize the plant on the federal level and expunge prior records while leaving legalization of recreational use to the states, the press secretary continued.

“The president believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for non-violent drug crimes—a disproportionate number of whom are Black and brown,” Jean-Pierre added.

SAFE Banking Act Again In The Spotlight

Meanwhile, the SAFE Banking Act, a measure designed to shield banks and credit unions that work with cannabis companies from legal penalties, was recently discussed at a Senate hearing, reported the news outlet.

The lawmakers reviewed the piece of legislation, first introduced by Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, during a Senate Banking Committee meeting focused on insurance issues.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) emphasized the importance of banking reform, which encompasses insurance-related provisions taken from his bill titled Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM). To illustrate possible insurance hurdles ancillary cannabis businesses could face if collaborating with marijuana businesses, the senator gave an example of a lightbulb manufacturer and a hypothetical product malfunction.

legal marijuana
Photo by Baris-Ozer/Getty Images

RELATED: NORML Op-ed: Prohibitionists Fear Democracy More Than Marijuana

“Imagine a scenario where a New Jersey lightbulb manufacturer sells a product to a state-legalized cannabis business, and there’s a fire related to the lightbulb causing the business to suffer loss,” Menendez said. “Under current law in the scenario I just described, could the lightbulb manufacturer’s insurance company face federal charges they paid the claim?”

Kathleen Birrane, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) representative, acknowledged that The SAFE Banking Act would significantly protect ancillary businesses.

“It’s really critical that businesses be able to buy insurance, that they be able to pay for that insurance and, when claims occur, that insurance companies be able to use the banking system to pay those claims,” she said. “The SAFE Banking Act would allow that to happen.”

RELATED: Biden Weighs In On Cannabis During Meeting With PA Senate Candidate Fetterman

Meanwhile, a recent Independent Community Bankers of America survey found that two-thirds of voters (65%) support the cannabis banking reform. The same poll indicated bipartisan public support for congressional passage of the legislation.

In June, the Senate rejected, for the sixth time, the bipartisan marijuana banking legislation in the final version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (a.k.a The America COMPETES Act).

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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Congress

Democrats Push Biden On Marijuana Reform Ahead Of Midterms

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As the midterms edge closer and closer, Democrats believe they have a window to push their agenda for marijuana reform.

Per The Hill, Democrats are pressuring Biden, trying to figure out what’s possible in terms of marijuana reform before the midterms in November. They believe the momentum gained by Biden’s previous decisions that leaned liberal — student loans, health care, and tax reforms — might positively impact marijuana decriminalization.

Joe Biden
Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

“Now that the president has delivered on a progressive policy of student debt relief, he has seen an uptick in the polls, he’s united the base, put Republicans on the defensive, and Democrats across the country seem to be riding the wave as well,” said influential Iowa Democrat Stacey Walker. “Along with several members of President Biden’s senior leadership team, we all agreed that at the very least the president should decriminalize marijuana and reschedule it through executive action at the federal level.”

Over the past weeks, other Democrats have echoed these statements, focusing on the benefits that this decision could have on the millions of people that have been negatively impacted by marijuana legislation in the past.

RELATED: Biden’s Student Loan Relief Plan Doesn’t Address Negative Impacts Of US ‘War On Drugs’

Democratic Senate hopeful John Fetterman publicly asked Biden to take action. “It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” said Fetterman. “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennslyvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana.”

A group of Democrats including Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and more, sent a letter to Biden, asking the president to remove the drug from the list of federally controlled substances. “I think Biden understands the larger issues at play here and I’m encouraged by that,” said Booker.

RELATED: John Fetterman Calls On Biden To Legalize Weed Ahead Of Labor Day — Here’s How POTUS Responded

Marijuana legislation has taken great leaps over the past decade, with dozens of states decriminalizing and establishing recreational and medical markets. The American population is also supportive of marijuana, with polls showing that the majority of people believe in legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana.



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Biden Weighs In On Cannabis During Meeting With PA Senate Candidate Fetterman

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By Jelena Martinovic

Just days after John Fetterman urged President Joe Biden to deschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug and work to decriminalize it, the PA Lt. Governor crossed paths with him near Pittsburgh.

According to Marijuana Moment, Fetterman — a fierce cannabis advocate and Democratic Senate candidate — and Biden discussed potential changes to the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act prior to his speech at a union hall on Monday. Biden was scheduled to visit Pittsburgh for a separate event on Monday during Pittsburgh’s Annual Labor Day parade.

John Fetterman Calls On Biden To Legalize Weed Ahead Of Labor Day
Photo by Nate Smallwood/Getty Images

While details of their conversation have not been revealed, Joe Calvello, Fetterman’s communications director told Marijuana Moment that Fetterman remained firm in his demands and “continued to advocate for the President to use his executive authority to begin the process of rescheduling marijuana so that people convicted of nonviolent offenses can go on with their lives.”

RELATED: John Fetterman Calls On Biden To Legalize Weed Ahead Of Labor Day — Here’s How POTUS Responded

However, there are signals that complete “descheduling” of cannabis was one of the issues touched on during the discussion. At the same time, a campaign spokesperson for Fetterman said earlier that he was planning to talk about “the need to finally decriminalize marijuana” at the federal level.

Will The Biden Administration Work On Marijuana Decriminalization?

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a news briefing last week that she didn’t “have anything right now to announce,” in response to Fetterman’s request to Biden to deschedule cannabis prior to his Pittsburg visit.

Still, she highlighted that Biden “believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown.”

RELATED: Sen. Candidate John Fetterman: ‘It’s High Time We Get Our Sh*t Together And Legalize Weed’

Biden granted amnesty to dozens of individuals with nonviolent federal drug convictions and commuted the sentences of 75 people serving time at home because of the pandemic earlier this year, out of which nine mentioned cannabis. He also issued three pardons.

Jean-Pierre added that marijuana decriminalization is “something that he has talked about during the campaign, and you’ve heard from him many other times talking about his drug policy focus and what’s important to him. We just don’t have anything to speak to.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.



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John Fetterman Calls On Biden To Legalize Weed Ahead Of Labor Day — Here’s How POTUS Responded

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If the recent polls are any indication, it’s looking like John Fetterman (D) has a good chance of beating Dr. Oz (R) to become Pennsylvania’s next Senator. Ahead of President Biden’s visit to Pittsburgh this Labor Day, Fetterman plans to press on the topic of marijuana decriminalization, an issue that has been one of the guiding posts of his campaign.

Fetterman released a statement this past Monday, urging Biden to deschedule marijuana before his visit to Pittsburgh.

“It’s long past time that we finally decriminalize marijuana,” said Fetterman. “The president needs to use his executive authority to begin descheduling marijuana, I would love to see him do this prior to his visit to Pittsburgh. This is just common sense and Pennslyvanians overwhelmingly support decriminalizing marijuana.”

Joe Biden
Photo by Bill Ingalls-NASA via Getty Images

Fetterman also posted his sentiments on Twitter, telling Biden that he has “the power to use your executive authority to chart a new course.”

In his statement, Fetterman also mentioned that marijuana is not a serious crime. “As mayor of Braddock, I made it my mission to combat serious crime. I know firsthand what real crime looks like. Marijuana does not fit the bill,” he wrote. “It’s time to end the hypocrisy on this issue once and for all.”

RELATED: Dr. Oz Faces John Fetterman In Unprecedented Senate Race — And Cannabis Is On The Table

During a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Fetterman’s statements, but she deferred. “When it comes to drugs, the highest priority for the administration is addressing an overdose crisis,” she said. “But at the same time, President Biden believes that there are too many people serving unduly long sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, a disproportionate number of whom are black and brown. That’s why in April, during the Second Chance Month, President Biden announced 17 sentences, commutations, and three pardons, which are more grants of clemency at this point in a presidency than any of his five recent predecessors.”

John Fetterman
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Fetterman has been a proponent of legal marijuana through his entire run for office. In one of his campaign videos, he explains he was one of the first politicians to voice his support for the drug. “And now five years later, I renew that same call for any number of reasons, but most importantly, for the criminal justice aspect of it,” he said.

RELATED: Sen. Candidate John Fetterman: ‘It’s High Time We Get Our Sh*t Together And Legalize Weed’

While Biden has previously opposed marijuana, his position has shifted over the years, landing on his campaign pledge to free people who have been incarcerated over marijuana-related offenses. Biden has taken no significant action on the topic of cannabis while in office.





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