Tuesday, January 19, 2021
This recent piece, headlined "We Know About Biden’s Cabinet on Cannabis," reports on the marijuana reform profiles of a number of members of the new Cabinet selection by Prez-Elect Joe Biden. The piece is an interesting read, and here is the start and conclusion to a focused discussion of some key nominees:
With Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden set for inauguration next week – and with his party in control of both chambers of Congress (albeit the narrowest of majorities in the Senate) – cannabis legalization could, finally, get at least a debate in both houses. There are three measures that the 117th U.S. Congress could consider during Biden’s first term: the SAFE Banking and MORE Acts – which were approved by the Democrat-controlled House in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and the STATES Act, a measure which would give states control over cannabis laws without federal interference that never made it to the House floor.
Were any of the reforms approved by Congress, responsibility for enacting and enforcing provisions of the law would be the responsibility of several government agencies led by Biden’s Cabinet picks. The SAFE Act, for example, would require regulation (and buy-in) from the Treasury Department; the MORE Act would likely involve a host of agencies, including but not limited to Health and Human Services, and the departments of Labor, Commerce, and Justice. The STATES Act would also likely hinge on support from the Justice Department and perhaps Commerce.
Many of Biden’s picks are veterans of the Obama Administration – for which the former Senator from Delaware served as vice president – such as Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and Domestic Policy Council Chair Susan Rice. Others, including Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, HHS Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra (California), and Labor Secretary nominee Marty Walsh (Massachusetts), come from states that have legalized cannabis for adult use.
A host of nominees that could play a role were Congress to end federal cannabis prohibition simply have made no public statements on the issue....
If approved by the Senate, Biden’s cabinet would be the most diverse in the history of the U.S. and that diversity could be advantageous – rather than obstructionist – if Congress passes all (or some) of the major cannabis proposals.