JOINT STATEMENT: Marijuana Plan for President Biden Presented By Advocacy and Industry Experts

Statement October 6, 2023
Media Contact

Laini Madhubuti [email protected]

Washington, DC – Today, United for Marijuana Decriminalization, a group of the nation’s leading marijuana policy reform advocates and industry leaders, hosted a briefing detailing how the Biden Administration can move forward to advance marijuana decriminalization and center equity approaches throughout the federal government. Speakers also highlighted concerns about rescheduling. A shift to Schedule III alone would not release anyone currently incarcerated for marijuana or expunge any records. And while the existing regulatory programs in 38 states would remain criminal, a new pathway to legal interstate sales would be created for pharmaceutical companies.

The group emphasized that rescheduling alone raises new risks and does not fulfill President Biden’s previous promises. However, the following three-step proposal, combined with rescheduling, would help advance the president’s stated agenda. With the ultimate goal of decriminalizing marijuana, the group laid out a proposal asking President Biden to implement the following incremental steps:

  1. Stop the harm by issuing new guidance to law enforcement pertaining to both individuals and licensed businesses, including deprioritizing prosecutions for marijuana-based conduct, seeking reduced sentences, and ending marijuana-related deportations.
  2. Repair the harm by expanding pardons and commutations to go beyond simple marijuana possession, and restoring benefits for those with previous convictions (and calling on states to do the same).
  3. Explicitly support marijuana legalization with regulations to protect public health, consumers, and workers; and prepare federal agencies to support small business development and prevent monopolization by Big Pharma, tobacco, and alcohol.

Today, the group launched a website at and invited potential collaborators to contact the newly formed coalition to join. It also encouraged supporters of its three-part proposal to contact President Biden directly through a petition.

Members of the group released the below statements:

Natacha Andrews, Executive Director, National Association of Black Cannabis Lawyers:

“As we move towards reconciling the will of the majority with the laws that govern them, we ask President Biden to be intentional about his commitment to equity, intentional about cannabis decriminalization and to set the tone for a robust industry that is inclusive, reparative and protects the American public from the shackles of monopolies. Rebranding prohibition can not be the legacy with which he ends his first term. Too many have died, too many have suffered and too many continue to pay the penalty for us not to get this right.”

Cat Packer, Director of Drug Markets and Legal Regulation, Drug Policy Alliance:

“We are excited to work with this dynamic group to help President Biden achieve his goals on equity, racial justice, and criminal justice reform. We invite other organizations and individuals to join our efforts to end marijuana prosecutions, restore people harmed by criminalization, and support a pathway for equitable marijuana legalization.”

Shaleen Title, founder and Director of Parabola Center for Law and Policy:

“President Biden has proven himself to be one of the most committed leaders in modern history when it comes to supporting workers and standing up to Big Pharma. We hope to collaborate with his Administration to move toward his goals for equity and justice.”

Justin Strekal, founder of Better Organizing to Win Legalization:

“This can be a lay-up win for both the Biden Administration politically and the American people tangibly. While Congress attempts to get its act together, the President can take meaningful actions to repair harms done and chart a positive path forward bringing marijuana policy into the 21st century.”

Kaliko Castille, President of Minority Cannabis Business Association:

“The Biden-Harris administration has an opportunity to build on their historic progress by using the full force of the Presidency to protect state legal markets as well as cannabis consumers who continue to be collateral damage in the war on drugs, while sending an unequivocal message to Congress that they must finish the job and fully deschedule. By implementing these additional reforms, the President would be moving closer to realizing his promise to decriminalize marijuana — a position that is supported by a majority of voters in both parties ahead of his re-election.”

Michelle Rutter Friberg and Khurshid Khoja, Director of Government Relations and Board Chair Emeritus of the National Cannabis Industry Association:

“In order to harmonize our nation’s patchwork of medical and adult-use marijuana laws, President Biden should instruct the FDA to initiate a parallel rulemaking that prioritizes consumers, protects existing small businesses and workers, and preserves state regulatory and public health mandates. We look forward to working with the Administration alongside other like-minded organizations to ensure that future changes to our nation’s marijuana laws don’t cannibalize the progress made to decriminalize cannabis at the state level.”

Chelsea Higgs Wise, Executive Director of Marijuana Justice:

“People remember promises of freedom. Folks living in southern states where repair is never guaranteed are holding Biden to his word to repeal the racist war on weed and on their existence. Our intentional 3-point plan reaches just about every corner of the country to bring justice not only for a plant, but for our communities trying to survive and provide. The time is now for Biden to keep his promise and commit to transforming the future of individuals and families impacted by prohibition.”

Organizations that attended the briefing on behalf of United for Marijuana Decriminalization included: Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Parabola Center for Law and Policy, Better Organizing to Win Legalization, National Association of Black Cannabis Lawyers (NACBL), and Marijuana Justice.

For more information, email [email protected].

The virtual briefing will be available by video at


A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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