Biden Administration’s Health Secretary Could Facilitate Cannabis Reclassification
President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Cali’s current attorney general to serve as the next federal secretary of health and human services. This position could play a pivotal role in reclassifying cannabis federally.
Legalization advocates rejoice as Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) is a known cannabis reform supporter. He has worked to protect Cali’s legal program from federal intervention, and now many hope that he will change the federal classification of cannabis.
However, we are still waiting for Biden to nominate a U.S. attorney general. This position also plays a significant role in cannabis classification and enforcement of drug laws.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is essential for enacting change in cannabis policy at the federal level. Even though the Justice Department is highly involved in cannabis’s federal scheduling, the HHS could perform a medical and scientific review that would push the attorney general to reclassify the drug.
With this being the case, HHS is one of the big players in cannabis reform using the available executive process. Becerra has outlined his feelings on federal cannabis policy with his idea that change is essential. But he still has not spoken out specifically about scheduling.
Biden has said he believes cannabis should be in the Schedule II category. This is the second most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. However, advocates argue that Biden’s beliefs regarding cannabis aren’t enough. They say this could negatively impact the legal markets.
Advocates have said that Biden should adopt a policy of a complete descheduling. This is something that will happen if the MORE Act, recently approved by the House, makes it through the Senate and onto President Trump’s desk.
However, Congress likely won’t advance cannabis legalization at this point. Even with this in mind, the Biden administration can implement reform administratively, which is how Becerra could help if the Senate allows him to join Biden’s cabinet.