In his 40 years in the Senate, as is now well known, Biden was a key architect of harsh criminal penalties for nonviolent drug users. Undoing much of his own work was one way to make sense of a large part of the criminal justice plan his presidential campaign recently released. Finding a centrist's safe-and-happy medium on weed in particular, Biden has not embraced legalization—a.k.a. commercialized, recreational pot use—but has claimed to back decriminalization, or removing at least most pot offenses from the criminal justice system.
But Biden is actually pushing a policy that could wreck the growing American weed industry and massively disrupt users' access to the drug, attorneys, consultants, academics, and entrepreneurs well-versed in US cannabis policy say.
"I view Biden's plan as a ham-fisted handing over of cannabis to the pharmaceutical industry," said Gavin Kogan, a California-based cannabis executive and attorney who chairs Grupo Flor, a large, vertically-integrated cannabis firm.
Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, the classification intended for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no medical value—a designation contradicted by a 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review, mocked on a daily basis by dozens of states with medical-use laws, and that even Attorney General William Barr apparently believes is untenable.