More than Smoke Signals: Biden Signs Cannabis Research Act into Law

More than Smoke Signals: Biden Signs Cannabis Research Act into Law

By Tara Zrinski

On Friday, December 2, 2022, President Joe Biden took steps to make good on his October promise to review scheduling for marijuana by signing the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act (H.R. 8454). This landmark bill passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress and is the first time an administration has deviated from policy aligned with advancing the War on Drugs, making a detour towards addressing the social justice impacts caused by that war. 

In October, Biden issued federal pardons for criminal charges on simple possession and urged Governors to do the same at the State level. With mixed reactions of celebration and criticism, his pardons forgave thousands of convicts, but didn’t free them from incarceration.

Aaron Smith, the co-founder and CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association, called Biden’s announcement this week, “unprecedented” stating he believes,“it’s imperative that we finally harmonize state and federal laws so that Main Street cannabis businesses can supplant underground markets and nobody is ever again put behind bars for a nonviolent marijuana crime.”

As a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is in the same classification as cocaine and heroin, which “makes no sense,” according to Biden. While Schedule II drugs like Adderall, Oxycodone, Dexedrine and even Fentanyl are recognized for having medicinal properties, cannabis is not recognized in this classification. Easing restrictions to research and speeding up the application to approve marijuana related studies is another step towards rescheduling marijuana.

According to the most recent poll from the Pew Research Center, 58% of people polled in October 2022 believe Adult Use Cannabis should be legalized, while only 10% believe it should be federally prohibited.


Tara Zrinski is the Campaign Director for the Pot Profits for Pennsylvanians (P3) Campaign. She joins All Together Now PA with a dynamic background as a local legislator in Northampton County, community organizer for environmental non-profits and adjunct professor of Philosophy at DeSales University and Northampton Community College.

To learn more about All Together Now PA’s Pot Profits for Pennsylvanians campaign, visit

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